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With the financial support from the Embassy of Denmark, the Ministry of Health and the Water and Sanitation Programme of the WB launched the Vietnam Handwashing Initiative in June 2008.
The initiative is a large-scale behavior change communications program aimed at promoting handwashing with soap among mothers of children under five and school children to prevent illness and death from diarrheal diseases.
The event, held at the Pioneer Cultural House in Hanoi, drew over 300 people from participating organizations, government agencies, and the Vietnam Youth Union as well as teachers and 100 primary school students.
The objective of the launch was to increase public awareness of the initiative and advocate for improved hygiene in Vietnam. The event used both entertainment and education to promote the handwashing with soap message.
The Vietnam Handwashing Initiative is of particular importance given the outbreaks of cholera, Avian Flu and SARS that have recently afflicted the country. Three main channels are used to promote the behavior change message: mass media, interpersonal communications via health workers and Women’s Union members, and private sector marketing events. By the end of 2010, interpersonal communications activities will be rolled out in over 600 communes throughout the country.
The campaign promotes positive messages to mothers of young children by using a well known counting song that is taught to all children in Vietnam. The end of the song says, “all five fingers are clean” but the mother realizes that her five fingers are not clean if she only washes with water – soap is needed to promote the health and development of her children.
Together with the Danish support to the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation programme, funding from the Embassy of Denmark to this Hand Washing Initiative programme is a part of its comprehensive effort to support Vietnam in improving health and living conditions of the rural poor including ethnic minorities through provision of clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.
 Embassy of Denmark, Hanoi: Water Sector
Edited July 10, 2008
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