Handwashing Gets a Boost from Peruvian Government
October 31, 2012
The Peruvian Health Ministry issued a Ministerial Norm to “Promote Handwashing as a Healthy Practice." The policy will help enable greater promotion of handwashing as a healthy practice through public health systems at a national level, including regional, local governments, social security, and even the national Police. This newly launched policy sets the ground for national budgets being allocated to the promotion of handwashing behaviors by various sectors, such as education, environment, and nutrition, among others.
Diarrhea and acute respiratory infections account for two thirds of deaths among children under five. Handwashing with soap can prevent these diseases by minimizing the transmission of harmful pathogens found in fecal matter. In Peru, a baseline survey by WSP conducted in 2008 found that only 46% of caregivers in the sample reported washing hands after defecation.
In 2003 WSP began working with partners in Peru, including government, to coordinate the Handwashing Initiative in Peru, developing methodologies and technologies to promote and facilitate the adoption of the handwashing practice by Peru’s poorest families. Central to this initiative were efforts made to enable the sustainability of the promotion of behavior by integrating it into public policy.
Over 130 norms of different hierarchy were published in the last few years by the Education and Health Ministries and by regional and local governments. Some of these norms were related to events, like the celebration of the Handwashing Day; some were geared towards one sector, like the integration of the handwashing behavioral change training methodology in the national guide for teachers on environmental education. Ministry of Health’s Sanitary Norm #048, comes with operational guidelines including budget allocation, and extends its institutional scope to Regional Governments nationwide.
With the publication of this health national policy, the government of Peru provides the foundation for sustainability of handwashing promotion with soap in years to come, and the basis for scaling it up nationwide.
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To read the full Ministerial Resolution (in Spanish) please download it here