Children Not Being Educated About Handwashing, Survey Finds

Children continue to be at risk of acquiring infections such as those caused by influenza viruses because they have not been educated about the simplest and most effective protection handwashing -- according to research released today. The study, commissioned by The Co-operative Pharmacy in the UK, has revealed that nearly 2 in 3 parents fail to ask their child to wash their hands when carrying out daily activities such as blowing their nose, running the risk of their children spreading and catching infectious illnesses. One in 5 parents said they didnt tell their children to wash their hands after using the toilet.

The research also found that 1 in 7 parents had never taught their children to wash their hands properly with warm/hot water and an antibacterial agent or soap. And one in 16 parents believed educating children about the importance of handwashing was the responsibility of schools. The Co-operative Pharmacy questioned 3,000 parents and found three-quarters of those polled failed to remind their children to wash their hands before eating and before preparing food or cooking.

More than two-thirds of respondents said that their children had experienced sickness and vomiting, food poisoning, and severe diarrhoea, all of which can be drastically reduced by handwashing. Nearly 3 out of 5 parents failed to recognise that food poisoning can be contracted by a lack of hand washing, which causes cross contamination of food and spreads bacteria such as ecoli and salmonella.

The investigation, commissioned to launch The Co-operative Pharmacys new antibacterial handwash, highlights the impact of handwashing and sanitation on childrens health. The new handwash will raise money for UNICEFs work in the developing world. The handwash, on sale from today in more than 600 branches of The Co-operative Pharmacy, will help to address this problem by donating money from the product sales to help support a UNICEF sanitation project in Africa.

"Our research shows that a high number of parents dont realize that they are putting their child at risk by not teaching them the basic principles of good hand hygiene," says John Nuttall, managing director of The Co-operative Pharmacy. "As a consumer-owned pharmacy we offer a range of health advice to hundreds of communities and believe it is never too early to educate children about the importance of handwashing. By promoting good habits in the home this decreases the risk of contracting serious infections, but also spreading them amongst family and friends."

The top five most common illnesses parents said their children have had are:

- Common cold

- Sickness and vomiting

- Chicken pox

- Flu

- Severe diarrhea

As part of The Co-operative Pharmacys ethical strategy, the business has donated £400,000 to UNICEF to help promote basic sanitation and reduce waterborne diseases in Togo. A UNICEF project, supported by The Co-operative Pharmacy, will introduce the Community Led Total Sanitation (CTLS) approach, encouraging communities and schools to examine their own state in terms of hygiene and sanitation, their practices in terms of defecation and management of their school environment. The approach is designed to mobilise communities into reaching and maintaining an open defecation free status in 390 villages in the Savanes, Kara and Maritime regions of Togo.

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