Celebrating World Health Day: Why Food Hygiene Matters

You are what you eat

It is estimated that 2 million deaths occur every year from contaminated food or drinking water. Diarrheal disease alone kills an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these cases are attributed to contaminated food or drinking water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

In Uganda, the WASHplus project worked closely with USAID implementing partners including Community Connector, SPRING, STAR-SW, FANTA, and others to integrate WASH and aspects of food hygiene, among other interventions, into HIV care and support. WASHplus developed a series of job aids to support outreach workers and clinical counselors to integrate WASH into their home-based and clinical practice. The job aids are available in English, and two local languages, Rukiga and Rufumbira. Also, notable in WASHplus’s work in Uganda is the application of the small doable action approach to food hygiene to address local challenges of keeping food safe.

Resources developed by WASHplus are provided below.

Integrating Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene into Infant and Child Nutrition Programmes. A Training Resource Pack for Uganda, 2014.

Integrating Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene into Infant and Child Nutrition Programmmes

In Uganda, the WASHplus project is integrating WASH into to Nutrition and Feed the Future Programming. Integrating WASH into nutrition focuses on the importance of improving household sanitation and nutritional needs in a child’s first 1,000 days. By building capacity of implementing partners and district focal and community resource personnel, WASHplus facilitated the integration of WASH into clinical nutrition assessment, home visits with householders of small children and families affected by HIV, and through community mobilization campaigns. For example, Community Connector now not only includes WASH as part of the model homes in its 1,000 days campaign, the project included WASH in its community drama initiatives, radio talk show, behavior change communication materials, and field day exhibition, which emphasized the integration of nutrition, agriculture, income, and WASH. Integrating WASH into the District Nutrition Coordination Committees further emphasized the importance of WASH and nutrition integration during the budgeting process, implementation, and supervision of district efforts to fight undernutrition.

Small Doable Actions for Improving Household Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Practices. Job Aids for Village Health Teams, Peer Educators, and their Supervisors (English, RufumbiraRukiga), 2104.

Small Doable Actions for Improving Household Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Practices -Job Aids for Village Health Teams_Peer Educators_Supervisors

Small Doable Actions for keeping food safe

Working with SPRING, WASHplus created the first-ever job aids promoting small doable actions for food hygiene, based on the World Health Organization’s “Five Keys to Safer Food.” The job aids address issues of food safety during preparation, serving, and related to storage. This initiative directly addressed the contribution of poor food handling in spreading contamination that leads to diarrhea. Other job aids highlight safe disposal of infant and animal/poultry feces, which may be significant contributors of undernutrition and inhibitors of growth according to a growing evidence base. Feces from these sources find their way to a child’s mouth through food or water contamination or through direct ingestion, causing diarrhea, enteropathy, and contributing to the excessive growth stunting documented in the region.

Additional WASHplus Resources

You Are What You Eat: Why Food Hygiene Matters for Child Growth. Julia Rosenbaum, FHI 360/Deputy Director of the USAID funded WASHplus Project, and Merri Weinger, USAID/Bureau for Global Health/Environmental Health Team leader. A presentation at the USAID Mini-University, March 2015.

Why WASH Matters for Improved Child Health, Nutrition & Growth: A Knowledge Sharing Event. Julia Rosenbaum, FHI 360/Deputy Director of the USAID funded WASHplus Project, June 2014.

Hygiene Intervention Reduces Contamination of Weaning Food in Bangladesh, Islam et. al. Tropical Medicine and International Health, Volume 18, no 3, pages 250–258, March 2013.

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