At least 73 percent of the students always wash their hands before and after meals and 71 percent of them washed hands after urination and defecation, according to the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice study on hand washing among school children in Bhutan.

The survey carried out mainly to document the evidence of hand washing in schools across the country sampled 1,680 students and 420 teachers.

The study was launched while the health ministry observed World Toilet Day in Tsirang last week.

The survey also stated that close to half of the students keep forgetting to wash their hands.

It revealed that 24 percent of them have no time for hand washing, while 18 percent was discouraged to wash hands because of facilities being located far. Another five percent of students reported that hand washing was not necessary.

During the launch of the study, health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said merely washing hands, cutting nails and maintaining clean toilet could prevent several illnesses.

“People don’t take it seriously but these seemingly minor habits can prevent at least 30 percent of the illness in the country,” he said.

According to the control of Communicable Disease Manual, 80 percent of diseases can be prevented with good hand washing techniques alone.

Meanwhile, more boys, at 75 percent reported that they never washed their hand even once in a day compared to 24.8 percent of girls. Almost 45 percent of the students agree that insufficient water supply in the schools discouraged them from group hand washing.

The students also stated lack of soap in their schools discouraged students from hand washing.

However, a majority of the students (82.7 percent) disagree with the statement, “Washing hands well with water does not need to use soap”.

In terms of receiving first-hand information on hand washing and related knowledge, four out of every 10 students have received information from the school health coordinators and teachers.

About 95.7 percent of the students reported their schools celebrating the global hand washing day.

Nirmala Pokhrel| Tsirang