Antibiotics are the first line of defense in protecting humans and animals against bacteria and other microbes. Microbes, like humans, want to survive. They can do that by mutating to adapt to their changing environment, unfavorable conditions and any threats they encounter — threats such as antibiotics.
Contributors: Henry Omara, Ibrahim Abali, Kenneth Otieno Awuor, Washabiah Chagwa, Peter Gottart, Aeorangajeb Al Hossain and Julia Rosenbaum, FHI 360
As FHI 360 marks its 50th anniversary, explore our history of solutions and future of possibilities.
For years, hand hygiene was a neglected issue within the broader water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector — until COVID-19. During the pandemic, public health messaging has re-emphasized the importance of handwashing and contributed to gains in more people practicing better hand hygiene. But now, we are seeing signs of fatigue and handwashing rates have begun to drop. As the pandemic continues, there is an urgent need to ensure that these gains are not lost. We must create a new normal, one in which hand hygiene is a mainstay in public health interventions. There are three ways to ensure that healthy handwashing behaviors outlast the pandemic.
The One Health concept calls for a worldwide approach to expanding interdisciplinary collaboration and communication on all aspects of health for humans, animals and the environment. This approach has tremendous implications for human health because an estimated sixty-one percent of human infectious diseases originate from animals. At the same time, there is a growing sense of urgency to advance One Health collaborations before more ground is lost in the fight for a healthy planet.
A version of this post originally appeared on FHI 360’s R&E Search for Evidence blog.
Evidence on the health and social benefits of handwashing is strong. We know that handwashing can prevent up to 40% of diarrheal diseases, and can lead to fewer school absences and increased economic productivity. However, many people don’t wash their hands at critical times, even when handwashing facilities are available. While research on behavior change has shown examples of approaches that lead to increased rates in handwashing, we’re still seeking to understand why people wash their hands, and how motivation for handwashing can be translated into programs that result in effective behavior change.
In advance of Global Handwashing Day on October 15, USAID and the Global Handwashing Partnership – an international coalition with a Secretariat hosted by FHI 360 – organized a webinar on drivers for handwashing behavior change. The Partnership’s work focuses on promoting handwashing with soap as key to health and development, with an emphasis on connecting practitioners with research findings to inform their work. Our webinar speakers provided two examples of how research is exploring behavior change from cognitive (how we think about and understand handwashing) and automatic (how we can be unconsciously prompted to wash our hands) standpoints. In this blog post, I’ll summarize how the two examples show different ways of understanding human behavior and discuss how the findings help us understand what drives behavior change for handwashing.
On August 3, 2017, FHI 360 will host an event, Building Resilient Communities in Changing Times, in Abuja, Nigeria.
FHI 360 has had a continuous presence in Nigeria for more than 30 years, and our programs have reached more than 20 million Nigerians. Over that time, our commitment to using science to improve lives has required us to adapt our programs and be flexible and creative.
Whether focused on health, education or gender, our activities in Nigeria are integrated and designed to produce results that go beyond project targets. As an example, our Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) project has not only provided HIV testing, it has also provided skills training to people with HIV to enable them to earn income and support their families. When people with HIV receive regular health care, they can continue to thrive no matter what their HIV status may be. They are living examples of adaptation.
FHI 360’s Julia Rosenbaum discusses the power of small doable actions in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs. FHI 360’s WASHplus program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports healthy households and communities by delivering interventions that lead to improvements in access, practices and health outcomes related to WASH and indoor air pollution. For more information on WASHplus, please visit www.washplus.org.
An Interview with
Sergio Ramirez, Senior Project Director, Global Education Group, FHI 360
Why is it important that education programs include lessons on healthy lifestyle habits?
We talk so much about reading and literacy in global education, but that is just one part of a child’s life. If we want to look at development in a holistic way, we have to look at a child in his or her entirety, not just his or her academic ability. There is plenty of evidence out there that shows that schools with better sanitary conditions attract more children. Parents vote with their feet, and if they see a school that is clean, has food and has hand-washing facilities, they are more likely to enroll their child in that school.
How do you see this kind of integration playing out in global education programs?
My dream is that we can inject health messages into teachers’ daily lesson planning, especially in primary education. Four major areas of concern are oral hygiene, handwashing and sanitation, malaria prevention and nutrition. Handwashing and proper use of latrines should be part of every school’s daily routine. Research shows that promoting handwashing in students, especially when they first arrive at school, greatly reduces the number of sick days among children.
In Latin America, proper nutrition is a major issue. Children are eating, but they are not getting the proper nutrients. They tend to eat a lot of junk food that is easily accessible in their neighborhoods.
Other than teachers, who else can help promote healthy habits in education?
Part of the magic of FHI 360’s active learning methodology is that we integrate parents’ participation in very specific ways. We have done this by asking parents to help schools provide children with breakfast each morning, and we have engaged parent associations to improve sanitation in schools. By actively engaging parents in daily school routines, they not only participate in the success of the schools, but also learn healthy habits themselves. This takes some of the burden off of teachers.