Make handwashing a habit at homes — DepEd

Published October 15, 2020, 11:40 AM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

As it implements home-based learning in lieu of in-person classes this school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) called on parents Thursday to make sure homes are safe and that children are taught to make handwashing a habit.

With the children continuing their learning at home because of the pandemic, Education Secretary Leonor Briones called on families to make their homes a safe environment to live and learn and teach their children to make handwashing a habit so “when we do return to school, handwashing will be key in ensuring safety of our children.” 

Briones said that DepEd has been celebrating Global Handwashing Day every Oct. 15 in schools since 2000. This, she said, is “in recognition of the importance of building the habit of handwashing among children to ensure their health.” 

Through the WASH in Schools Program, Briones said DepEd has institutionalized actions to improve handwashing facilities and instill handwashing behavior among learners. “Now under the new normal, our Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan also integrates handwashing practice as part of the required health standards,” she said.

Meanwhile, DepEd officially announced its partnership with the Department of Health (DoH) and UNICEF to strengthen the campaign for proper hand washing especially amid the pandemic.

In time for the this year’s celebration of Global Handwashing Day, DepEd and DoH — two of the most crucial government agencies in shaping the future and well-being of a generation — have come up together to mark the beginning of a stronger partnership.

With the theme “Clean Hands For All,” DepEd and DoH with support from UNICEF gathered various development partners, sector representatives, and local chief executives in a two-day online symposium.

The event held on Oct. 15 and 16 aims to identify key directions for sustaining the handwashing habit beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and promote sustainable proper hand hygiene culture in the Philippines.

DoH Secretary Francisco Duque III also underscored the need to reinforce and enable four key preventive behaviors — one of these is hand hygiene or cleaning of hands through handwashing with soap and water or sanitizing with alcohol-based hand rub.

“Together with DepEd, we are calling on everyone to do their share to beat the COVID-19 virus today and ensure better health outcomes beyond the pandemic,” Duque said. “To save lives and reduce illness, it is vital that we combine our expertise in health, education, communication and community knowledge to raise awareness and promote hygienic and safe practices,” he added.

 UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov stressed that while handwashing is critical to children’s health and development, “it is still out of reach for so many children and families — especially the most vulnerable.” Thus, she underscored the need for sustained investments to “make hand hygiene a practice beyond the pandemic.”

Dendevnorov said that the partnership of DepEd and DoH in bringing together a national handwashing roadmap is a “critical step towards a safer future for children in the Philippines.”

The Clean Hands for All: Learning and Partnership Symposium will be streamed for free from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Held entirely online, various organizations will be sharing new and innovative ideas that can spark behavioral change as well as sustain handwashing practice in various sectors and settings.

This activity is also part of the support of UNICEF to the  government in developing a National Handwashing Campaign that will be rolled out in 2021.