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ICDDR,B study reveals encouraging increase in hand washing in Kishoreganj
DHAKA, Jan 24, 2013 (BSS) - A pilot study undertaken by the icddr,b researchers has demonstrated how specially developed interventions can significantly improve basic hygiene practice in rural communities.

Findings of the study carried out in low income settings in Kishoreganj, where hand washing with soap and use of treated drinking water were a rare practice, show that hand washing with soap rose to 75 percent from 17 percent in 13 months.

The increase was mainly marked after villagers had received a combination of health messages as well as necessary equipment to wash hand properly, stated concerned researchers at dissemination session at ICDDRB on Thursday.

The study, which looked into safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene practices, said 62 percent of households were treating their tube well water with chlorine tablets after the pilot intervention commenced in 2010.

Carried out among approximately 1,500 rural households from 2010 to 2012 to determine the most acceptable and feasible interventions for water treatment, sanitation, hand washing and nutrition, the study was designed to see the WASH benefits.

"This pilot study was crucial to help with decisions on the most viable interventions for the larger WASH Benefits trial," said Dr. Stephen P. Luby, Professor of Medicine Stanford University, USA, and Principal Investigator of the WASH Benefits Project.

"It also allowed us to refine our data collection instruments, behaviour change communication materials and methods and the overall study design. We hope that the WASH Benefits study will provide the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector with vital information on the child health benefits of combining interventions."

The trials included baseline and endline surveys to measure pilot intervention uptake. Qualitative assessment with community members provided feedback to aid selection of the most promising options for the randomised controlled trial.

Local Government Division Secretary Abu Alam Md. Shahid Khan, who attended the function as the chief guest, said the study that has been worked with the community to understand local behaviors and tailor the interventions to fit the local context would help government to fix future strategies.

ICDDR,B Interim Executive Director Dr. Abbas Bhuiya said he was happy to see the encouraging impacts on WASH after interventions that has raised hygiene practices at local levels. He said the findings might be instrumental for policy and programmatic implications in Bangladesh.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the WASH Benefits project is a sister study to a project being conducted in Kenya and involves collaborators from several USA based universities including University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; Johns Hopkins University; State University of New York; University of Buffalo and Emory University.

Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Director, Centre for Nutrition and Food Security, ICDDR,B, Pavani Ram, Associate Professor, University of Buffalo, USA, and Dr. Leanne Unicomb, Head, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Research Group also spoke on the occasion.
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