How HopeCore Health program is working to prevent the spread of COVID through our Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) program.
by Vincent Mawira
Sanitation is more than just the proper use of toilets, it encompasses the facilities, behaviors and services that prevent diseases caused by contact to human waste. Hygiene refers to behaviors that can improve cleanness and lead to good health.
Sanitation and hygiene are critical for health, economic growth, and the dignity of a community. Good sanitation significantly reduces healthcare costs and increases productivity, as the time available for work and school increases. Diarrhea, a symptom of poor sanitation, is a major cause of disease in children. It’s shocking that more people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet. One way of avoiding this is by providing schools with safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and hygiene education that encourages the development of healthy behaviors for life. The physical environment and cleanliness of a school facility can significantly affect the health and well-being of children.
The Village HopeCore Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program aims to improve community health through education about proper hygiene practices, as well as providing access to clean water in the Mswimbi and Muthambi sub-counties.
Village HopeCore partnered with the Ministry of Education to supply these counties with a 1000-litre water tank for clean drinking water, as well as three 70 liter tanks for hand washing. We also provided soap, water guard and hygiene education. So far, 215 schools have been enrolled in this program.
The WASH program also works with schools through health clubs to provide an avenue to continuing education through peer-to-peer learning. The health clubs are supervised by a Teacher Health Champion trained by Village HopeCore. Each school that partners with HopeCore has 1-2 Teacher Health Champions (THC). These THC’s oversee the school-based youth peer providers (YPP) and are mentors for them as they gain skills and experience being youth health educators. In addition to training on topics related to WASH, HopeCore additionally trains then THCs and YPPs on other topics including visual screening, sexual and reproductive health, drugs and substance abuse as well as basic counseling skills.
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world, Kenya closed their schools early on in March of 2020. HopeCore continued to seek ways to improve WASH systems in the local community. The HopeCore WASH program supplied 11 high traffic public areas and several health facilities with 210-liter hand washing tanks. Additionally, 28 government facilities received 100 liter tanks that were loaned by HopeCore. HopeCore also distrubuted a very large, 750-litre tank to one of then local hospitals that didn’t have a hand washing facility for the high volume of patients that they treat on a daily basis.
Lastly, since the COVID pandemic began, our WASH program officer was able to educate over 3,000 people about the importance of hand washing in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Now that schools are starting to open back up, HopeCore is returning to to these schools to provide ongoing assistance and support to the WASH programs that we initiated in schools several years ago. Our efforts include training the Teacher Health Champions and Youth Peer Health Educators on the importance of WASH, especially during the time of COVID. HopeCore has developed a specific flip-chart that outlines the safe practices and guidelines for preventing COVID-19 through the use of appropriate WASH interventions.
To empower the teacher health champion, the WASH program conducted a refresher training in January this year. The teachers were trained on all topics related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.