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Improving health starts with children in Vietnam

Lack of access to safe water and proper sanitation facilities is one of the major issues affecting the health of communities in rural, northern Vietnam. Due to bad hygiene practices, 70 per cent of children under five in Kim Boi district experienced regular diarrhoea in 2012. This was also linked to the high rates of malnutrition in the area.

ChildFund Vietnam is helping to improve the health of local communities in Kim Boi by constructing new water supply systems and household latrines, providing water and sanitation facilities for schools and raising community awareness on the importance of safe water and proper hygiene.

“I have just learnt an interesting song about washing hands with soap,” 12-year-old Huyen excitedly shares. “The song reminds me to wash my hands before eating and after going to the toilet. It is very easy to sing!”

Huyen is among 300 students from her primary school in Kim Boi who recently participated in hygiene lessons conducted by ChildFund-trained facilitators. The facilitators who are helping to improve hygiene awareness in schools are all duty-bearers from local communities including teachers, healthcare workers and Youth Union staff.

Before working with children like Huyen, the facilitators participate in a five-day training course on CHAST (Children`s Hygiene and Sanitation Training) – a new approach for promoting good hygiene amongst children.

“CHAST is a good child-to-child approach to help children learn more about personal hygiene and sanitation, especially for children aged five to 12. By playing and learning at the same time, children also can develop their language and analysing abilities,” said Que Anh, Vice Director of the Research Centre for Family Health and Community Development.

During the training, the local facilitators participate in a variety of sessions including exercises and educational games on hygiene and sanitation issues, disease transmission prevention and examples of good and bad hygiene practices so they can then deliver fundamental information in a fun and memorable way for children.

“The part that I like the most is introducing the six-steps of washing hands with soap to fifth grade children. They are old enough to be aware of keeping their hands clean, but it is important for them to know the right way to wash their hands to ensure personal hygiene,” says primary school teacher, Hieu.

Over the past year, over 200 hygiene education sessions have been conducted in nine schools across Kim Boi district which is benefiting about 2,500 children. By giving children practical lessons to improve their hygiene, we aim to help children build up good practices which will influence their families and improve the health of the entire community.

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