"Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex." Albert Einstein
We think this idea is brilliant.
In an emergency environment, disease can spread like wildfire. One way to keep things under control is to make sure everyone is taking the time to wash their hands.
And what better way to encourage children to wash their hands than by providing a reward for their efforts?
Save the Children's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene team have invented Surprise Soap.
A bar of soap that contains a small toy buried inside. So the more you wash your hands, the closer you get to your prize.
Stopping the deadly spread
The simple act of handwashing can have a huge impact on preventing the spread of disease. But in areas where disaster has struck, or where communities have been displaced or lost their homes, it's a practice too often overlooked.
Diseases spread by unclean hands can be devastating in the wake of an emergency – whether it's an earthquake, conflict, flood or typhoon. Diarrhoea and pneumonia are particularly notorious. 40% of all deaths in an acute emergency are caused by diarrhoea.
Multiple studies have shown that the incidence of diarrhoea can be halved by effective handwashing. And cases of pneumonia can be quartered.
However, we've found that simply educating families on the health benefits of handwashing has limited effect.
Children are overwhelmingly the most common victims of diarrhoea and pneumonia. So getting children in emergency situations to regularly wash their hands has the potential to save a substantial number of young lives.
The 'surprise' solution
Which is why this innovation is so clever!
It not only encourages children to wash their hands with soap, it also adds a little fun into the experience. It arouses curiosity and provides a cheerful reward for diligent washers.
And it doesn't stop there.
The hope is that children who are motivated to wash with soap will encourage their families and wider communities to get in on the act too. Ultimately reducing the overall prevalence of disease in these environments.
Watch this space…
The Surprise Soap bars will be trialled and monitored in a camp for displaced families in Rakhine State, Myanmar later this year.
The aim is to achieve an overall improvement in child health in the camp, and a reduction in cases of diarrhoea and pneumonia.
We'll also be engaging with parents, other household members, public health practitioners, school teachers and those involved with the distribution and promotion of soap within the camp.
The project will be rigorously designed, monitored and evaluated with a view to significantly scaling up the use of the soaps in emergency settings. (We'll keep you updated and show you some pictures as soon as they come to hand!)
The spread of disease during humanitarian crises is a huge problem and a massive threat to children. This is another example of how we're doing whatever it takes to save lives.