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10/16/2014

Washing hands poster @Haiti

In our office, like other JEN offices overseas, we display JEN’s washing hands poster. Let me take this opportunity to write about “washing hands” with details.

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“Washing hands”. This is for most of people an insignificant unconscious concept. As a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene promotion specialist (WASH) this is much more than a concept. A part of my work is to encourage people to do it the maximum time that they can do and at the crucial time. From my long experience, I have faced several critical times when washing hands was able to decrease significantly an outbreak of any virus or cholera. And if you think that this concept is only for the third world, sorry to say that you are wrong.

In our society this concept was completely neglected after the massive expansion of antibiotic after the Second World War. The idea was that we can kill all disease if we have the correct antibiotic. It’s not rare to have a prescription of antibiotic for a virus. I can remember the last time we had a massive campaign on washing hands in my country; it was for the H1N1 flue. At the end the pharmacy group made more profit with their injection than the cosmetic group with their soap.
Washing hands makes entire sense here because the situation is critical for several reasons. If there is an outbreak of a virus that can be prevent on washing hand you have to make a maximum effort on that.

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First of all, it is because the majority of people do not afford for a medication. Secondly because the health sector doesn’t have the capacity to response to an outbreak etc.

Washing hands it’s not enough to prevent the transmission of disease; it has to be done in a correct way. For instance an efficient washing hand has to be done in 30 seconds. I can assure you that only a small part of our society does it correctly, and we usually call them maniac. I take a bet with you that you take much less than 30 seconds to clean your hands.

The first time I was on the field for a survey, I ask all day long the people to show me how they wash their hands. I was amazed how they proceed. They clean their hands better than a surgeon. Just to say, that the difficulty of our work it’s not only to “teach people how to clean their hands” because they know it, maybe better than me. However the most difficult part is to convince that this effort (including financially) will benefit them.

Finally “washing hands” is not enough it should be complete by “with soap” if we want to be more efficient.

Head of Office, Haiti
Ludovic Blanco


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October 16, 2014 in Haiti |