NOW more than ever, people see the importance of handwashing with soap and water as an easy, effective way to prevent diseases and save lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), promoting good hand hygiene is one of the most basic and powerful tools that member states can implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19. According to WHO, All Member States should urgently provide universal access to public hand hygiene stations as they embark on the next phase of the pandemic response.
Here in the Philippines, SM Foundation (SMFI) has always been a staunch supporter of this advocacy even before the pandemic that integrated the installation of handwashing facilities in its various social good initiatives.
Given ample space in the school grounds, SMFI includes the installation of hand washing facilities whenever it turns over school buildings to grassroot communities. Also included in its default building plan is a restroom in each classroom that has a wash basin. More so, SMFI also installs overhead water tanks in schools with erratic or low water supply in order for these schools to have access to safe and clean water.
Meanwhile in its Health and Wellness Centers, SMFI ensures to include the improvement of restrooms and wash areas for use by all—visitors, patients, nursing, medical and cleaning staff of such facilities. This is to ensure that the spread of health care-associated infections between patients and health workers are prevented. As of 2019, SMFI was able to establish almost 170 health centers with sufficient restrooms and wash areas – of which 85 are qualified for PhilHealthAccreditation.
Some of Philhealth’s accreditation requirements related to handwashing are for health facilities to have an adequate water supply, adequate infection control and risk management, which includes availability of a sink with adequate water and soap, and observance of proper handwashing technique by the medical staff.
“One of the goals of our social good programs is to create a culture of good hygiene in grassroot communities. We believe that it can play a critical role in fighting not only in the spread of COVID-19 but also the spread of other diseases by adopting
frequent hand hygiene as part of their day-to-day practices. This is the reason why we integrated the installation of handwashing facilities as a standard requirement in all of our facility-based programs and projects, even long before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe,” said SMFI in a statement.
SM Foundation is the social good arm of the SM Group of companies whose focus is to improve the quality of Filipino life by providing access to quality education, healthcare, sustainable agriculture, social inclusion and relief during disasters.