Background: School children are the agents of change as the health behaviors they adopt during childhood are retained later in life. Hand washing facilities must be available both in homes and in the schools of children for effective hand hygiene practices thereby preventing diseases. Promoting and sustaining appropriate hygiene behaviors among school children remains a major challenge in schools. Very few studies have tried to explore the differences in hand hygiene in two different settings like urban and rural.
Objective: To study the differences of hand hygiene and its correlates among school going children in rural and urban area of Karnataka, India.
Methods: A cross sectional and descriptive study was undertaken on school children studying in grades 5th to 8th from the selected schools. 625 school students were enrolled in the study from 6 schools randomly selected from urban and rural area of Raichur District, Karnataka, India. Data was collected through school records, interview and clinical examination.
Findings: 625 students participated in the study that comprised 36% girls and 64% boys. 280 students were selected from urban schools and 345 from rural schools. Availability of place and soap were the significant barriers for hand washing behavior in homes and schools. Use of soap for hand washing was unsatisfactory. The significant differences of hand hygiene practices can be attributed to lower knowledge of hand hygiene among rural students, non-availability of place and soap for hand wash.
Conclusion: Sustaining hand hygiene remains a major challenge in schools. The hand hygiene practices are contingent upon availability of sufficient resources like place, water and soap in schools and homes consistently. Hence hand washing facilities and latrines that include adequate amounts of soap and water, are essential in promoting hygiene. Our findings highlight the need for more intensive efforts to promote proper hand washing behaviors.
Abhay B Mane, Nandika S Reddy, Partha Reddy, Chetana KV, Srijith S Nair, Sriniwas T