DepEd leads Global Handwashing Day celebration

November 7, 2017

PASIG CITY, November 7, 2017 – To ensure learning outcomes through proper hygiene practices in schools, the Department of Education (DepEd), through the School Health Division (SHD) of the Bureau of Learner Support Services (BLSS), spearheaded the celebration of Global Handwashing Day (GHD) at the Central Office on October 23.
 
Annually observed on October 15, GHD is not only a celebration to advocate for and raise awareness on the significance of washing hands with soap, it also aims to bolster investment in global handwashing efforts and uphold the well-being of schoolchildren.
 
The theme “Our Hands, Our Future” exemplifies the importance of sustained and habitual handwashing with soap to ensure that learners, as well as citizens, are physically healthy to conquer future challenges.
 
“We strive to teach our children how important this simple procedure is to the maintenance of physical health,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said in her video message for the event.
 
Undersecretary Tonisito M.C. Umali, Esq. called on reviewing the effectiveness of the campaign and enhancing it to ensure sustainable positive outcome: “Let's look at the impact of the advocacy campaign and all other activities that we may have embarked on to promote Global Handwashing, vis-a-vis the incidents of infectious diseases, prevalence of illness that may be avoided by just doing the simple act of handwashing so that we will know whether we are effective in our campaign or not. From here on, let's strategize and figure out how we could be more effective and efficient in doing all these things.”
 
Also in attendance were Director Rizalino Jose Rosales of BLSS;  Chief Health Program Officer Dr. Maria Corazon Dumlao of the School Health Division (SHD); Supervising Health Program Officer Dr. Ann Quizon of the SHD; Division Chief Dr. Franklin Diza  of the Department of Health (DOH) Environmental and Occupational Health Office-Disease Prevention and Control Bureau,  Principal Advisor Ms. Nicole Siegmund of the Regional Fit for School Program of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH), and Mr. Norman Gagarin of the UNICEF WASH in Schools, who all led the demonstration of proper handwashing.
 
DepEd’s WinS Program
Handwashing with soap is one of the key elements of DepEd’s comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WinS) Program, stipulated in DepEd Order No. 10, s. 2016, which advocates correct hygiene and sanitation practices among schoolchildren, and promotes an environment conducive to learning to keep learners safe and healthy.
 
“With the support of all partners, DepEd is committed to expand and improve the implementation of the WinS Program towards the realization of our goal to deliver quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education for all Filipino learners to have a better start in life, and thereby contribute to a better, brighter future for this nation,” Secretary Briones said in her message. 
 
The key components of WinS Program are: availability of safe drinking water on a daily basis; safe water for cleaning in school; adequate, clean, and functional toilets; supervised daily group handwashing with soap and brushing of teeth with fluoride toothpaste among learners; environmental sanitation; semi-annual deworming of schoolchildren; safe practices in food handling and preparation; effective menstrual hygiene management; health education for all students and personnel; and capacity building for all DepEd program implementers.
 
The WinS Three Star Approach (TSA) implements School-Based Management as a pathway for schools and stakeholders to take local action towards improving and sustaining WASH services gradually. WinS TSA bolsters the capacity of school to: identify their own needs; effectively introduce solutions; manage and sustain WinS; enhance stakeholders’ involvement; and mobilize local resources.
 
Stakeholders’ contribution
The success of the GHD celebration, as well as the WinS Program, will not be possible without the invaluable contribution of stakeholders including families, communities, the media, and partner agencies and organizations including the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, International Medical Corps, Save the Children, UNICEF, and the DOH.
 
Diza expressed DOH’s commitment to work with all partners on possible collaborative activities and shared expertise to sustain this global campaign, as well as to strive towards the provision of safe drinking water and food.
 
Meanwhile, Siegmund shared that GIZ supports DepEd’s WinS policy and its implementation in terms of technical assistance. She also congratulated the Department for its outstanding execution of WinS TSA and called this initiative “very innovative” as it provides schools with clear guidance and incentives to gradually improve via the Star levels (0 to 3 Stars) and to eventually reach Star 3, which is equivalent to national standards.
 
Further, Gagarin articulated the assistance of UNICEF in terms of understanding and strengthening the WinS Program, and providing direct support to the 2017 Work and Financial Plan.
 
“Under the leadership of Ma'am Liling Briones, Usec. Alain Pascua and his team, the dream of achieving a 100% awareness [on the importance of proper handwashing] among all public elementary and secondary education students and all schools, getting the three-star badge will definitely happen,” Umali said.
 
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