Children celebrate the global handwashing day in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

Niharika Singh
Children celebrating
UNICEF Laos/2020/SSiriphongphanh
15 October 2020

On a bright October morning, children at Thongkang primary school in Vientiane capital were in for a surprise when they were greeted by three cheerful friends.  

For these young students, it was a day of delight, wonder and amazement, as they played around their school with their new mascot buddies: Water, Soap and Hands! 

Screaming with joy, running around and hugging their new fuzzy friends, children were seen dancing and practicing the seven steps handwashing.  

To celebrate the Global Handwashing Day on 15 October 2020, UNICEF Lao PDR amplified the message of “Healthy Hands are Happy Hands” through these 3 affectionate mascots. Using this innovative interpersonal communication approach, the message to adopt the behavior of handwashing with soap and water, was further instilled among children as they washed their hands with Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR .  

“I do not get tired of repeating this: Regular handwashing with soap and water is still the most simple, effective and affordable measure to stop the spread of not just Covid-19, but also protect from other diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, pneumonia and hepatitis E" -Dr. Britto

Children washing hands
UNICEF Laos/2020/AKarki
Students of Thongkhang Primary School in Vientiane teaches UNICEF Representative the 7-steps of handwashing.

Ministry of Education and Sports and UNICEF Lao PDR partnered on this campaign to encourage handwashing as a preventive and precautionary measure during COVID-19 and to further ensure that children stay safe and healthy in schools.  

“We have learned that a key to our fight against Covid-19 is improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene so that children can stay safe in school. Now more than ever, we need handwashing to not just become a part of our daily behavior during the 5 most critical times, but we also need heightened investments to scale up handwashing across the country. And the opportunity for this already exists in Lao PDR, since 95% of the people already have a handwashing facility with water but not with soap,” added Dr. Pia. 

Water mascot
UNICEF Laos/2020/SSiriphongphanh
Children surround the water mascot.
Soap mascot
UNICEF Laos/2020/SSiriphongphanh

The theme for this year’s Global Handwashing Day stresses upon “Hand Hygiene for All”, signifying that we cannot afford to leave anyone behind. However, 4 in 5 of the poorest Lao people do not have a handwashing facility with soap and water. Commitment is necessary to reach the most vulnerable Lao people first and promote not just access but also practice. 

UNICEF Laos/2020