Handwashing stories of change

People’s behaviour changed for different reasons

UNICEF
UNICEF
UNICEF Myanmar/2020/Khin Mar Win
16 October 2020

We spoke to women and men around the country to hear whether COVID-19 has affected their handwashing habits. It has! People’s behaviour changed for different reasons.

Some remember a song that takes as long as a thorough hand-wash, others can't forget teachers’ reminders. Some are embarrassed to be thought of as unclean. Many are driven by the fear of transmitting COVID-19 to family via dirty hands and feel guilty to contribute to COVID deaths if they don’t wash their hands. Here, some share their stories.


Sai Sithu Aung,19, Shan State

Have your handwashing habits changed?

My handwashing habits have totally changed since hearing about COVID-19. Now, I know how to wash my hands properly. In the past, I washed my hands randomly, and not properly. But now I see proper handwashing steps on TV every day.

Why?

Washing my hands while singing songs [from TV] is very motivational and makes me happy to wash my hands. Especially knowing that the “Happy Birthday to you” song lasts the adequate time for washing your hands until they’re clean. My children also often remind me about handwashing.


Nwe Nadi Kyaw, 21, Shan State

Have your handwashing habits changed?

My handwashing habits have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic was announced. I wash my hands as soon as I come back home from outside, and I even stay at home to ensure that my hands stay clean. Whenever I go out, I bring hand-gel with me and wear a mask. They’re my essential materials! Whenever I see them, it reminds me to clean my hands.

Why

The COVID-19 pandemic made me change my handwashing habits. In social media, I see many posts showing how to wash your hands, how to use a mask, and popular songs by Ko Phoe Pyae Sone and Mi Sandi. If I’m infected with COVID-19, I can transmit it to my family. This thought also made me change my habits, so that I wash my hands very often.


Ma Moe Swe,17, Magwe Region

Have your handwashing habits changed?

I changed my hand washing habits since I have heard about COVID-19 cases. Now, I wash my hands every time I get home from outside, and I wash my hands with soap whenever I handle anything. Every day, I wash my hands with the new handwashing style.

Why?

Our teachers taught us about communicable diseases, and they inspected the condition of school latrines. They always say: “Wash your hands every time after you use the toilet.” So, ever since my school-days, I’ve had handwashing habit.”


Daw Nyein Htay, mother of five children, Magwe Region

Have your handwashing habits changed?

I changed how I wash my hands since hearing about COVID-19. I wash my hands when I come back home from other places. 

Why?

Village health workers talked about how to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. They scared me when they said I could transmit COVID-19 to others. This fear made me change my handwashing style. Washing my hands every time after I use the toilet helps to remind me to take care of my hands.


Ma Kay Zin Phyo,16, Magwe Region

Have your handwashing habits changed?

Yes, I have changed my hand washing style. In the past, I washed my hands only before eating a meal. After finding out from TV that handwashing can systematically prevent COVID-19, I changed how often I wash my hands and the way I wash them.

Why?

I wash my hands thoroughly because I’m afraid of suffering from COVID-19. As COVID-19 cases and deaths are increasing day by day, it motivates me to wash my hands carefully.