JIS News

The advanced social marketing class of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), has launched a ‘Clean Hands, Healthy Kids’ campaign among four basic schools in Lionel Town, aimed at encouraging the students to wash their hands before having meals.
The drive, which targets St. Margaret Mary, Watsonton, Hope and the Open Bible basic schools, is geared at curbing the incidence of gastroenteritis in the parish by promoting hand washing under the slogan, ‘Let’s spread the word not the germs’.
Minister of Health, John Junor, who was on hand at the launch held at the St. Margaret Mary Basic School, welcomed the campaign. “Achieving an excellent health system in this country can only be done in partnership,” he said, while stressing that, persons too, had to take responsibility for their own health.
He said the public health campaign was particularly timely, in light of recent incidents of viral meningitis, which was a mild form of meningitis, an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounded the brain.
This condition, Minister Junor pointed out, was spread by person-to-person contact among other ways.
“It is spread for instance, by people, who are not washing their hands after handling diapers and faecal matter. These people then go on to shake hands with other persons or provide meals for babies, resulting in the condition,” he explained.
Dahlia Harris, CARIMAC student, told JIS News that the campaign targeted children between the ages of three and six years, because their immune system was not fully developed, making them susceptible to many diseases.
“Something as simple as soap and water can contribute to persons being healthy. We felt that, if we taught the children at this age to maintain the habit of washing hands, then as they get older, they will practice the habit, which in the long run, will make them healthier,” she pointed out. Among the strategies being employed to impart the message is a colouring book to teach the students about hand washing. There is also a mascot, ‘Sammy Soap’, who will visit classes and introduce students to the concept of germs, while stressing the necessity of washing hands.
In addition, instructional videos will be used to reinforce the message. This will be particularly useful for other schools, which would like to implement the project. T-shirts will be also emblazoned with ‘Sammy Soap’ reminding persons that, “clean hands make healthy kids”.
Laurel Brissett, Principal of St. Margaret Mary Basic School, expressed pleasure that her school was chosen to be part of the campaign. “It’s a good project and I think from now on, parents will also see the need for the washing of hands and that clean hands make their children healthy,” she told JIS News.
The project is part of a two-year programme in social marketing offered at the University of the West Indies. The course engages participants in applying the principles of commercial marketing to a social issue, which in this case is personal hygiene and how it relates to overall health.
This is the first year that a social marketing group has taken their activity off the Mona campus and into a community outside of Kingston.

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