GABORONE – The simple act of regularly and properly washing one’s hands with soap and water has been noted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an integral measure to promote personal hygiene and can help prevent illnesses and diseases such as COVID-19 and Diarrhea. Proper hand washing is one of the proven ways of preventing these germs. With the increased number of recorded COVID-19 cases during the festive season in Botswana, there is a need to reinforce messages that influence individuals to make hand-washing a habit. In December 2020, Family Health International (FHI 360) in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Wellness introduced a campaign titled “Tlhapa Diatla” or “Wash Hands” when translated from Setswana.
The campaign seeks to promote regular and proper handwashing as paramount to combating a number of diseases, including but not limited to COVID-19. The campaign seeks to create greater awareness around the need for a change in behaviour as relates to hygiene practices such as this, as well as provides education on the importance of proper hand-washing. The campaign commenced December 2020 with broadcast media platforms including interviews for wider dissemination of information.
The campaign engaged Community Health Workers to work in two selected communities of Old Naledi and Gamodubu. These Community Health Workers conducted home visits to educate people on proper handwashing. Follow-up visits will be conducted in January 2021 to assess the level of understanding and hand-washing habits of these households over time, with a view towards seeing positive behavioral change.
Dr. John Irige, Accelerating Progress in Communities Project Director at FHI 360 noted that, “We are grateful to all stakeholders on the ground who are helping to bring this initiative to life, looking to change Botswana’s narrative not only against COVID-19, but against any number of possible health concerns worsened by poor sanitation and hygiene. Washing one’s hands can protect lives and we owe it to ensure that no individual or community struggles when it comes to this basic right. This campaign is just one effort towards that much bigger ambition.”
The campaign is also joined by a local artist, Charma Gal, who recorded a dedicated song called “Tlhapa Diatla” encouraging individuals to wash their hands and making the act of hand washing fun. Comedian M’Jamaica is also participating in the campaign with a social media skit to shine the light on the importance of hand washing.
The Tlhapa Diatla campaign is brought to you by FHI 360, in partnership with Ministry of Health and Wellness, USAID and PEPFAR. Hand washing is only one of the means of defeating COVID-19, individuals are advised to practice social distancing, wearing of masks and other MOHW protocols .