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Citizen Action Wins As Dettol, MKU And KNUT Partner In Hand Washing Campaign After Norovirus Outbreak.

A section of the 'Dettol' hand cleaning campaign team teach pupils of General Kago Primary School how to properly wash their hands in a bid to fight preventable diseases spread through unclean hands.
Sometimes early this year, Thika Town and its environs was attacked by what was suspected to be a norovirus epidemic. Virtually all the local primary schools and several other government and private institutions recorded cases of some stomach virus.

Everyone was worried, especially due to the fact that the outbreak happened during the doctors’ strike and nothing much was coming out from the authorities to assure the residents of their safety.
The issue of parents jamming social media platforms lamenting helplessly about their kids’ safety triggered a group of residents to action through exploring civic activism and community action. 

Using the local media platform, Thika Town Today, the organisers mobilised residents and various organisations into action. 

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“We planned this hand washing campaign as part of community action following the outbreak of the stomach bug in Thika sometimes early this year. Today we have launched it here with General Kago Primary School pupils. We plan to roll it out to all the 37 public primary schools in Thika West Sub-County for the next two weeks before the schools close,” said Wairimu Muriuki, the brain behind this great initiative.

The convener Wairimu Muriuki Taking pupils aand participants through the whole essence of the hand washing campaign.
Reckitt Benckiser Group of Companies, the makers of Dettol, Mount Kenya University, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Thika Branch, the Departments of Health and Education in the County Government of Kiambu and the Office of the Thika West Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) joined hands to make this exercise a success.

This initiative, Wairimu said, was part of their efforts to instil behavioural change among the kids and residents aimed at arresting most of the preventable diseases that culminated from people’s irresponsible actions.

“Each one of us has a civic duty to ensure that the kids are molded into global citizens. The habits and practices we instil to them will be part of Kenya’s future,” she added.
The host Headteacher Mrs. Jennifer Njeri Njuguna was very ecstatic with this initiative, noting that her school was greatly affected by the outbreak with over 50 pupils forced to miss classes during that period.

“This kind of an initiative will go a long way in ensuring children are healthy and are maintained in classes, thus reflect positively in their general performance. When these children learn how to take care of their own health, they will pass on that information to their parents at home and as a result we will have a healthy society free of preventable diseases,” said Mrs. Njuguna.

Wairimu concluded by challenging the citizens to act as the change they really yearned for.
General Kago Primary School Headteacher addressing the gathering during the hand washing campaign.

“The future of Kenya is in the hands of ordinary citizens. Change must happen and we must be part of the change that we want. We must not wait for leaders to always tell us what to do. We must be the driving force that brings the change we really want,” said Wairimu.

In developed countries, the idea of citizen initiatives take centre-stage in determining the destiny of a community. They assist communities to communicate across class, ethnic, and racial lines, and to set up systems and policies to take advantage of their resources and address their problems.

In such a stratagem, citizens get involved in not just identifying and reporting civic problems but in conceptualising, designing and developing and implementing solutions as well. The people actually have a say in important decisions affecting their society.

In his inauguration as the 35th President of the United States in 1961, John F. Kennedy told the Americans, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” 

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Present at the event included Thika Town Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) Alex Mukindia, Thika Branch KNUT Executive Secretary Joe Mungai Ngige,  Teresiah Wanjiru Njuguna from the Kiambu Health department and Ann Maina from the Department of Education in Kiambu County.

Others included officials from MKU led by Dr. Susan Mambo of the Department of Environment and Public Health plus employees of Reckitt Benckiser who facilitated the who hand washing campaign.  

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