The Covid-19 pandemic in all its irony has been a boon for hand hygiene. Previously overlooked, this seemingly mundane task has become the center of conversation as a first-line defense against the pandemic. Such is its seriousness that global efforts to champion hand hygiene for all, access to handwashing stations and handwashing behavior change have taken center stage globally.
For NBCC, the efforts as a hand hygiene champion led the coalition to be invited as a contributor to a webinar A private matter - The role of the private sector in hand hygiene promotion. Designed to rally action for all society to achieve and sustain universal hand hygiene to protect public health and stop the spread of Covid-19, the conversations discussed how hand hygiene is promoted, enabled and mainstreamed throughout the whole of society.
Speaking during a webinar organized by the World Bank to advance hand hygiene solutions under the umbrella of the Hand Hygiene for All initiative, the Water Global Practice’s Hand Hygiene Accelerator, and 2030 Water Resources Group, together with UNICEF, WHO, and Global Hand Hygiene Partnership (GHP), NBCC, Secretariat CEO Maggie Rarieya highlighted the challenge that morphed into the access of hand hygiene services to over 16 million Kenyans who previously did not have access. The webinar that sought to highlight the value of public-private partnerships in accelerating hand hygiene was also attended by government representatives and private entities from around the world.
"By bringing together brands in the hygiene business, last-mile distributors, NGO's skilled in community engagement programs, digital tech agencies and multi-lateral organizations NBCC has deployed 5,311 handwashing stations countrywide," said Maggie. Further, with our partners Amref and Unilever, we are running the Mum's Magic Hands initiative a training program targeting Community Health Volunteers designed to address barriers to handwashing in emergencies.
She added, running unbranded campaigns, NBCC has reinforced hand washing campaigns through above and below the line communication, write-ups, posters, and social media campaigns all aimed at driving conversation and maintain top of mind awareness for hand hygiene.
Indeed these efforts have been recognized by the Kenya government reinforced by the recent announcement during the Global Hand Washing Day that the Ministry of Water through the CAS Dr. Andrew Tuimur noted the handwashing space had not been getting the desired attention; however, the ministry has now created a Department of Sanitization to reposition, elevate and sustain sanitization to bring handwashing back to focus.
Moving forward, NBCC is looking at consolidating the gains for handwashing and ensuring they get ingrained in society's behavior. Besides delivering handwashing stations, NBCC is seeking to create community ownership to ensure the facilities become part of and continue to serve these communities indefinitely. Further, in anticipation of the reopening of schools, the coalition is working with corporate entities on the Wash 4 Schools program an initiative that will see investment into handwashing facilities and infrastructure in schools.