News Archive 2010


October 15th The World Celebrates Global Handwashing Day

How To Avoid Poo, Excrement, Faeces

Dr Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explains how we can save millions of live by washing our hands after going to the toilet, and especially before eating food. She was talking at a party for primary school children held in London's Science Museum to celebrate Global Handwashing Day, where Grace Mukasa chief executive of AMREF (African Medical And Research Foundation) and perfume expert Kate Williams from the Seven Scent company add their comments on how best to help children learn the habit of washing their hands.

An audio podcast is available with interviews by those taking part as well as a song by popular South African signer Yvonne Chaka Chaka .

Visit the global handwashing day website for games, posters and activities from around the world.

Going without washing

how dirty can you get?

Journalist Nicky Taylor wanted to find out whether we had become too concerned with being clean and should we be worried about the health and social implications of not being clean? Listen to the discussion with Val Curtis, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Hygiene Centre on the BBC’s website.

Children Deterred From Using School Toilets

Dirty and occupied by smokers and bullies, a survey warns.

A survey carried out by Val Curtis, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Hygiene Centre, quizzed more than 300 secondary school children and found many were worried about using their toilets because of the filth and the threats, leaving them unable to wash their hands and vulnerable to diseases, such as E.coli and gastroenteritis.

Read the rest of the article by accessing the BBC website.

Hand washing fact box:

  • One in four people have faecal matter on their hands
  • Britain's 12m cases of norovirus, gastroenteritis, MRSA, E.coli and now swine flu infections are mainly down to dirty hands
  • Only a third of men and two thirds of women wash their hands with soap at UK service stations

Friday has been designated Global Handwashing Day, an annual, global initiative which seeks to promote handwashing with soap - the most effective and cheap way of preventing diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.

These two diseases, in combination, cause the majority of child deaths, killing millions in developing countries each year. The following stories and internet links are associated with the above reports from the BBC website.

  • Children 'avoid school toilets' 14 OCTOBER 2010, HEALTH
  • The clean hands mission 01 JANUARY 2010, MAGAZINE
  • Shame 'boosts hand-washing rate' 14 OCTOBER 2009, HEALTH

Related Internet links:

  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Global Handwashing Day
  • HPA - Health Protection Agency
  • NUT National Union of Teachers
  • Educational Games 4 ALL


Now wash your hands!

BBC’s Peter Day interviews Val Curtis on the cost effectiveness of handwashing with soap.

Listen to Val on this episode of Global Business on BBC iPlayer.

Now wash your hands!

In this edition of Global Business Peter Day hears some simple ideas about cleanliness which could change the fortunes of poor people around the world, hearing from three projects about the techniques of big business - marketing in particular - they are using to carry their messages.  The first message comes from Val Curtis who says that handwashing with soap is the single most cost effective intervention to save lives in developing countries – one million lives could be saved every year.  Val is working with producers to make soap available at prices – and sizes- suitable to the pockets of the poor.

Changing handwashing behavior in rural India

Adam Biran and Val Curtis have been awarded a Wellcome Trust grant to conduct a cluster randomized trial to evaluate an intervention to change handwashing behavior in rural Indian households.

The aim of the project is to test the effectiveness of a scalable intervention for promoting hand-washing with soap in a rural, developing country context.  The results will provide urgently needed evidence as to whether such efforts can effectively be delivered at low cost in rural areas throughout the developing world, and thus significantly alleviate a major health burden: morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease. If successful this would also represent a major advance in our ability to change health-related behaviour at scale.

World Water Day Monday 22nd March 2010

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. For more information please visit the official World Water Day site.


Environmental Health Group and the Hygiene Centre Review 2009.

Staff from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Environmental Health Group and Hygiene Centre participated in their annual meeting from 11th to 13th January 2010.

Sandy Cairncross and Val Curtis the Group’s respective leaders, guided staff and visitors through a review of current work in Point of Use Water, Schools, Sanitation and Handwashing.
Other sessions covered Behaviour Change Models, Understanding Behaviour, Motivation and Disgust.

We also heard from Dhanraj Chokappa Research Technical Resource Development Director at Hindustan Unilever Ltd and Amit Chakrabortty, also of Unilever Research India.
Day 3l concentrated on a brainstorming session preparing proposal ideas for prospective fund application during 2010. These centred around sanitation and hygiene themes such as sanitation financing, water initiatives in West Africa and improving hand cleansing.

Hygiene Centre Newsletter 2009

Click here to download a review of work undertaken by the Hygiene Centre during 2009

New Staff

Valerie Heywood joined the Environmental Health Group on the 4th January. Valerie is a new Finance Officer and will be working within the Administration and Finance Team.

Old Staff

Wolf-Peter Schmidt has left the Hygiene Centre to take up a studentship in Japan for one year. Wolf is now based in the Institution of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University.

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