At a glance: Haiti

Haitian students spread the message of hand-washing, a critical measure in the fight against disease

FRECHOU, Haiti, 16 October 2012 – Derilus’s mother nearly died of cholera last year in this small mountain village just outside Port-au-Prince.

In cholera-affected Haiti, awareness about the benefits of hand-washing is saving lives. UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports.  Watch in RealPlayer

 

Since then, the 14-year-old boy has learned how simple hand-washing with soap can protect him and his family against cholera and other infections.

“Having such germs is very bad,” he tells a visitor to his school.

New school becomes clean, new start

Derilus’s school was destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 2010. In its place, UNICEF has built a new school, along with new latrines and a hand-washing station with soap.

Students have been taught that hand-washing with soap is the most effective way to reduce falling ill with diarrhoea. It is also a critical hygiene measure in the fight against cholera, which has affected all of Haiti.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Video
Children attend a Global Hand Washing Day event in Haiti. For the next month and a half, demonstrations are taking place in camps, neighbourhoods, children’s residential centres, and health facilities.

Global Hand Washing Day and Beyond

To celebrate Global Hand Washing Day, Derilus’s school hosted an event that featured top government officials and UNICEF staff, including country representative Edouard Beigbeder.

“This school now has excellent sanitary facilities, so today the students have the ability to wash their hands with soap, and will benefit from hygiene-promotion activities, so they can better prevent contagious diseases like cholera,” said Mr. Beigbeder.

For Haiti, Global Hand Washing Day is more than just one day. Over the next 45 days, activities like the event at Derilus’s school are taking place all over the country.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Video
Derilus, 14, has learned how simple hand-washing with soap can protect him and his family against cholera and other diseases.

The campaign is led by the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training and the water and sanitation body DINEPA, with support from more than 40 international NGOs and some 30 community-based organizations.

Hand-washing demonstrations are taking place in camps, neighbourhoods, children’s residential centres, and health facilities.

The lessons are often carried home and passed along to parents.

“As soon as I go home, I tell my parents to wash their hands before doing anything, especially before eating,” says Derilus. “If you want to avoid cholera, wash your hands with soap.”


 

 

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