Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
“Me” and “We”: The Impact of the “Cleaner, Healthier, Happier” Intervention among Children from Sylhet, Bangladesh and Kolkata, India
(School of Public Health (UMD) Department of Behavioral and Community Health Doctoral Student)
Globally, one in ten deaths among children under the age of 5 years is caused by diarrheal disease, resulting in around 800,000 fatalities annually. Diarrhea has typically ranked among the top causes of young child mortality, and is especially problematic is developing countries due to poor sanitation and hygiene behaviors. The purpose of this intervention was to promote water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among some of the most vulnerable children and families in Sylhet, Bangladesh and Kolkata, India using a multi-media health communication approach. A small-scale pilot of the "Cleaner, Happier, Healthier" program was developed with Sesame Workshop to educate young children on proper WASH methods using two different approaches to WASH messaging: one that appealed to personal motivations for behaviors, and one that appealed to social motivations. The study examined both the overall impact of the interventions, as well as the relative efficacy of these approaches. Significant positive changes in adult and child knowledge and attitudes were found in Bangladesh with no significant differences in knowledge or attitudes in India. For the intervention groups in both countries significant increases were found in WASH behaviors, including latrine use, shoes wearing, and hand washing. Overall the results from the personal motivation group did not differ from those who received the social motivation messaging. This may be due to participants in both groups viewing the intervention as a social issue. Results of this work suggest that children and adults who have received the Cleaner, Healthier, Happier interventions will be informed and motivated to engage in healthier behaviors.