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  1. ITV Report

Medical student creates life-saving book for India’s poorest children

Children in India are learning life-saving skills - how to wash their hands properly Credit: Future Hope

A picture book developed by medical student Alice Huffman at Weston General Hospital is being used in some of the poorest areas of Kolkata in India to help children protect themselves from life-threatening diseases.

300,000
Children in India die from diarrhoea every year
20%
Children in India regularly wash their hands after going to the toilet

Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that around 300,000 children in India alone die each year from diarrhoea.

Yet it’s estimated less than 20% of all children living in India regularly wash their hands after going to the toilet.

This lack of personal hygiene increases a child’s risk of contracting life threatening diseases like cholera and typhoid and exposes them to serious infections like gastroenteritis, worm infestations and infectious hepatitis.

The book reminds children to wash their hands with soap after they visit the toilet Credit: Alice Huffman
It shows how germs can easily spread Credit: Alice Huffman

Miss Huffman, a fourth year student at the University of Bristol, has created the picture book, which teaches primary school-aged children how and when to wash their hands properly and the possibility of contracting a serious illness if they don’t.

As well as the book, the information can also be hosted on a website and projected onto a screen for teaching large groups.

The book is being used in six schools across India through the charity Future Hope. Its teachings have already had an impact on children’s hand-washing behaviour.

34%
Acceptable hand-washing before being taught
78%
Acceptable hand-washing after being taught
The book has already changed children's hand-washing behaviour for the better Credit: Future Hope

The success of the project has meant Miss Huffman has won a top honour from the University of Bristol for her work on the life-saving picture book.

This book truly has the potential to help save lives.

A huge benefit of this book is that Indian children learn hand-washing techniques and then take what they have learned back to the family to be integrated into the home environment - reducing the risk of infections even further.

– Dr Andrew Newton, Consultant, Weston General Hospital