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Behavioural change is a must to fight the issues related to health and hygiene in India

Dayanand Jadhav

“Yes, please.”

Yesterday, as I sat in my office to relax a while, I heard a voice. “Shall I come in Sir?” the municipal workers standing outside the door said.

They wore masks, with the usual “Shabnam” bag on their shoulders, and a receipt book in their hands. “What a pleasant surprise, and what are you are carrying?” I asked.

However, their reason was a little troubling, misleading and made me pity our governing state. These workers were selected to collect fines from those citizens who were not wearing masks. 

Biggest Concern – People not wearing mask

What worries me most is that after continued warnings by the government that not wearing masks increases the risk of spreading coronavirus, people are not falling in line.

Image for representation purpose only

Now the government has announced hefty fines. Many had to step out to earn a livelihood and to limit their carelessness; it was compulsory to wear masks and now, if you stepped out without a mask, you will have to pay a hefty fine.

This is acceptable for those who are out un-necessarily without a mask, but it is worrisome for those who are out to earn their daily wages. 

This is the latest example from the COVID-19 pandemic. Another example is about the airborne spread of Tuberculosis (TB).

Negative habits that impacts society, needs to be changed

The primary reason for the spread of this disease which kills thousands of people every year is spitting in the open. We have failed to restrain those who still spit in the open.

In the end, we need to fix which habits need to be changed and who is responsible for it. However, interestingly, we must also inspect the corners of the offices where these discussions are happening.

Right from the wastage of electricity to the cupboards overflowing with papers thrown everywhere.

From the red coloured corners of windows and staircases to wastage of water in toilets and much more. Many such habits need to be changed immediately.

Strict Enforcements – Need of the hour?

Primarily, wearing masks, frequently washing hands & face, maintaining cleanliness and stopping damage to the environment among other activities should be strictly made compulsory in government offices.

Once these habits are inculcated thoroughly right from peons to seniors, it will surely percolate on the general masses. Alongside, if the local political leaders take this seriously, then it will take the cause even further. But sadly, none of this is happening, and the “Clean India” program is still a distant dream.

One can conduct detailed research of the past 76 years on any seminar, workshop, street meeting or an initiative by any political leaders or senior government officials undertaken within their respective offices about behavioral change.

Barring national days and any political media platform, a handful of officers might have conducted such initiatives. To work towards bringing about behavioral change in today’s “Digital India” is like a pie in the sky.

Bapu’s teachings needs to be imbibed

On the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we launched the “Sawchha Bharat” movement. However, we had missed imbibing the teachings of the father of our nation.

Our elders taught us, that Bapu once said, “No man should be made to clean after another man, (but when it comes to social cleanliness) each citizen among us must become his servant.” This statement itself explains what should be our mission on sanitation.

Hence, I insist on our government, semi-government, educational, corporate and most importantly, political establishments to take necessary actions for promoting behavioral changes, in no time, we will observe a boost in sanitation work and reduction in health-related problems.

This will directly help lower the financial provisions we make for health care services.

Speaking on Healthcare services, economy and sanitation, Dr. Margret Chan, (Former-Director, World Health Organization) said, “If we wish to improve healthcare management and grow both socially and economically, then improved sanitation management is the best solution in front of us. Every dollar, yuan and rupee spent on this will benefit us nine times over.”

In short, every rupee spent on sanitation can save nine rupees in healthcare. A national-level program on behavioral change in India is the need of the hour.

Only the consistent implementation of this will lead to the eradication of problems related to health and hygiene. This should be our utmost priority without any doubt.

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About the author

Dayanand Jadhav

The author is currently Executive President at Triratna Prerana Mandal

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