June 5, 2009

To get kids to wash hands, teach teachers

An Israeli researcher tired of seeing her children sick says if teachers are taught the importance of hand washing, more children wash their hands.

Dr. Laura Rosen of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health said her preliminary study of 40 pre-schools and kindergartens had shown that teachers were often unaware of the direct connection between hand washing and health.

Rosen's study, published in Health Education Research, found pre-lunch hand washing in participating schools increased from 25 percent to about 60 percent.

There was no connection being made between hygiene and illness,so basic hygiene wasn't being taught, Rosen said in a statement. You need to work on attitude. We ran seminars for teachers and taught them about the transmission of diseases.

Rosen used puppet shows, songs, games and petri dish demonstrations to teacher the benefits of hand washing. However, she also ensured schools had the tools they needed to put theory into practice.

If you have a population that knows how important it is to wash hands, but doesn't have soap, they aren't in a very good situation. she said

Rosen said she decided to tackle the issue when she became frustrated with the frequent illnesses of her own young children.