Hand Washing a Low Priority in Rural Cambodia, Study Says; ADRA Improves Hygiene Practices

Silver Spring, Maryland--Only one in four rural Cambodians practice appropriate hand washing regardless of access to clean water and hygiene knowledge, according to a recent study presented by ADRA at the World Federation of Public Health Associations/American Public Health Association (WFPHA/APHA) Annual International Health Breakfast held in San Diego, California.

Dr. Leonard Uisetiawan, provincial projects advisor for the ADRA office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, who presented the study, discussed the perception and hand washing practices among rural Cambodians. According to Dr. Uisetiawan, the project concluded that less than 26 percent of rural Cambodians use good hand washing techniques regardless of access to clean water and hygiene knowledge. In addition, less than 6 percent of child caretakers properly washed their hands after changing a child’s soiled diaper or after defecation.

This research, funded by Colgate-Palmolive through the American Public Health Association, also highlighted that the practice of hand washing in Cambodian homes is not dependent on the availability of soap, water, buckets, accessibility to hand washing areas, household size, amount of children, mother’s vocation, or educational level.

"There is a belief that hand washing with soap is a waste of money, water, and time," said Satha Sin, public relations officer for ADRA Cambodia.

Through the findings of this project, ADRA will provide information to parents that will help them improve the health of their children, by promoting good habits as role models. ADRA hopes that parents’ approach to teaching personal hygiene, specifically hand washing, will be modified.

"By utilizing traditional values, perspectives, and community beliefs, we expect to be able to increase the number of villages that practice proper hand washing," said Dr. Uisetiawan.

The Hand Washing Research Project has been conducted over the past year as part of "Phum Mittapheap Koma", a three-year initiative aimed at improving rural health and reducing morbidity and mortality among more than 22,500 women and 17,400 children in the Kampong Thom province.

According to the Cambodia Demographic Health Survey, nearly nine percent of Cambodian children die before the age of five as a result of diarrhea, which is associated closely with the ingestion of contaminated food or water. The study identified this as one of the leading causes of death among young children.

ADRA has been active in Cambodia since 1988 in the three main sectors of Health, Water and Sanitation, and Food Security.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at adra.org.

Author: Satha Sin, ADRA Cambodia / Nadia McGill and Hearly Mayr, ADRA International.

Media Contact: John Torres
Senior Public Relations Manager
ADRA International
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Phone: 301.680.6376
E-mail: Media.Inquiries@adra.org


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