print this page

Thursday, November 01, 2012

One formula for good health from a Formula 1 star

Whilst visiting India, Fernando Alonso shines a spotlight on the importance of hand washing with soap

<p align="justify"><i>Whilst visiting India, Fernando Alonso shines a spotlight on the importance of hand washing with soap</i></p>

Fernando Alonso and Indian school children display their clean hands.


1 November, 2012 – In India for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso took a moment last week to show school children in the village of Tugapur, Uttar Pradesh, how to wash their hands.

“This very simple act can save hundreds of thousands of children who needlessly die every year,” said the UNICEF Spain Ambassador.

Many diseases, including polio, spread when food or water becomes contaminated with faecal matter. “Hygiene is critical to good health as it reduces the transmission of disease and the number of deaths,” Mr Alonso stated. In India, where many people do not have access to a toilet and 1000 children die each day as a result of diarrhoeal diseases, something as straightforward as hand washing with soap can make a dramatic difference to the health of a child.

UNICEF and the Indian Government worked together throughout the month of October, around Global Handwashing Day on 15 October, to help promote better hygiene practices. This year the focus was on teaching children good habits at school, with 1.3 million primary and upper-primary schools participating in Global Handwashing Day celebrations.

“Working with their teachers and peers, they can create an active learning environment in school and also carry messages back home to motivate their families to handwash with soap at critical times. We are currently supporting the Government of India to institutionalize hand washing with soap in schools before the Mid-Day Meal so that over 110 million children are reached every day”, said Sue Coates, head of WASH at UNICEF India.

While promotions are scaled up each October, efforts to encourage effective hand washing take place throughout the year, including as a part of polio-related social mobilization activities. In Bihar, for example, community mobilisers not only discuss the importance of being vaccinated against polio with at-risk families, but also use the opportunity to demonstrate and explain the need for everyone to wash their hands with soap at key moments throughout the day – particularly after using the toilet, before eating and before preparing food.

“You do not need a winning formula to save the lives of millions of young children around the world. The solution already exists: soap and water. Let’s make ‘wet, rub, rinse’ a routine for everyone,” Mr Alonso said.

Read the full story here.