A major media campaign has little or no effect on persuading children from Peru and other nations to wash their hands. By contrast, if the subject is addressed at home or in schools and children are given access to soap and water, many more will have clean hands. But who teaches the parents, teachers and children?
The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (2003-2010) was implemented by Peru, Senegal, Tanzania and Vietnam, with technical assistance from the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). The main objective is to promote handwashing with soap at three key times: before meals, before cooking and after using the toilet.
Why is handwashing important?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhea and acute respiratory infections are responsible for two-thirds of the deaths of children under age five in Latin America. Handwashing with soap can prevent these illnesses by reducing the transmission of fecal contaminants to a minimum.
In Peru, handwashing is still not a widespread practice. A 2008 IMASEN study reported that the lack of soap was a major obstacle for achieving effective handwashing. Nevertheless, other research (PRISMA 2003) found that 99% of Peruvian households have soap but that it is not accessible to children since mothers tend to put it away to prevent them from using it up.