The Health Promotion Department recently celebrated Global Handwashing Day, which takes place every year on October 15th. During the celebration, we promote hand washing with soap as an easy and affordable way to save lives by preventing pneumonia, diarrhea, and malnutrition, three conditions that are especially dangerous for children. Mali Health community health workers encourage families enrolled in our programs to wash their hands with soap throughout the year, but Global Handwashing Day is our opportunity to spread this important message to families we wouldn’t normally reach.
The theme for 2017 was “Our Hands, Our Future.” Mali Health recognized the occasion by hosting two public educational events: one on October 14th in Kalabambougou, where hundreds of women participate in our Savings for Health program; and the other on October 20th in Sikoro, where we engage community members in all three of our programs to improve the health of women and children. Between the two events, 1,100 people joined in the festivities.
We focused on promoting hand washing with soap at three critical times: 1) after using the restroom, 2) after changing a child’s diaper, and 3) before touching food. Two of our Quality Improvement coaches, Dr. Sogoba and Dr. Bathily, demonstrated proper hand washing techniques to the crowd, and our emcee Abdou Touré, Mali Health’s media expert, kept the crowd engaged and entertained between activities. Those attending answered trivia questions about hand washing and won hand washing kits, complete with wash basins and several bars of soap.
We were grateful to be joined by representatives from Mali’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Family Affairs and the Ministry of Social Development, Humanitarian Action, and Economic Solidarity; their participation both strengthens Mali Health’s relationship with important actors in maternal and child health in Mali and provides an opportunity for community members to meet and share their thoughts with their government.