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Media prepares ground for annual Handwashing Day

JAIPUR, Rajasthan, October 30 2009 – Is it just going to be another one day event and then nothing asked Ankita from the Hindustan Times. Of course not was the reply from the dais.

“The idea is to initiate a campaign starting on the 27th of October which will be continued for several months and simultaneously measuring the impact of the campaign,” said Hemant Joshi Executive Director Communication and Capacity Development Unit of the Public health and Engineering Department of Government of Rajasthan.

“And we need your continuous and unstinted support,” Joshi added.

Ankita was one of the 15 journalists who attended the state level media workshop on handwashing. The workshop intended to make the media aware how a simple act of handwashing can save lives and also to seek out media’s partnership in the coming months to implement the “clean hands healthy hands” campaign.

For this year, Rajasthan has decided to set up a task force of four key departments(Women and Child, Education, Health and Public Health and Engineering) whose service delivery directly impacts the lives of women and children. The state had last year reached 9.3 million children through day long hand washing event.

This year the government hopes to reach out on a sustained basis to an estimated 10 million children in one lakh schools, 40,000 Anganwadi centers and primary health centers in 237 blocks of Rajasthan. In order to achieve this, all the field level functionaries from the four departments have been trained to sensitise them on the issue and explain to them the steps of handwashing.

This year the state faces a new challenge of drought as it prepares for the handwashing campaign. The availability for drinking water is has been affected and to ask people to the focus on handwashing is a huge challenge.

As a strategy, the state has introduced the low cost ‘Tippy Tippy Tap’ method of using minimal water to wash hands. A competition has been also initiated where wherein people can suggest new model of handwash with minimal usage of water.

The journalists present at the workshop suggested number of ways to spread the campaign. One was to print ‘Clean hands healthy hands’ message on the bills circulated by the water department every month while the other suggested for a contest on FM radio and Local TV channels on the 'How’s and Why’s' of the handwashing campaign.

The media created the necessary ground next day with its illustrative articles in the news paper creating an environment to launch the ‘Clean Hands Healthy Hands Campaign’.



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