Acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) — In Sudan local ‘champions’ take the lead in promoting proper hygiene practices

A UNICEF trained health worker walks children through he correct steps of hand washing with soap ©UNICEF/Sudan/2016

Did you know that hands are one of the main transmission routes of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), and that hand washing with soap is an effective ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine?

AWD is spread through contact with germs from faeces of infected people that get into unprotected water sources and food, and are transmitted through contaminating in areas where open defecation is practiced.

To control the spread of AWD, the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF is providing safe drinking water through chlorination, as well as soap for handwashing. This is complemented with awareness raising drives focusing on prevention through hand washing with soap, proper hygiene, as well as water & food safety.

This is the story of Mustafa, a restaurant owner in the town of Ed-Damazin in Blue Nile State, whose restaurant has become a safe and trusted eating environment, especially for mothers with their children, who form a large part of Mustafas’ customers when they visit the nearby clinic.

“In the past, before the AWD outbreak and before the awareness raising campaign, my clients only used one piece of soap every few weeks.” said Mustafa. “Now, after the intensive awareness campaigns, one piece of soap barely lasts a week, as everyone now washes their hands before eating. It’s a very drastic change in behavior!”

Mustafa also said that the hygiene messages which are sent through radio, announcements through public address systems and megaphones, flyers and drama performances have taught him the importance of keeping his kitchen, utensils, washing area and toilet very clean. “I am not afraid to remind my clients to wash their hands first or to protect their food from flies” said Mustafa.

Like Mustafa and his clients, every time you eat or drink you are making a choice that impacts your health and that of those around you — strengthen your own first line of defense against AWD by always washing your hands with water and soap.

Social mobilizers use drama to raise awareness on the importance of good hygiene practices as a preventive measure from diarrhea. ©UNICEF/Sudan/2016
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