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Vidya Balan campaigns for sanitation in UP, Bihar

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Lucknow: Bollywood actress Vidya Balan, who is the national sanitation brand ambassador, along with with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav flagged off an initiative titled “Changing Behavior” Creating Sanitation Change Leaders” here on Tuesday. The project, which aims to make 100 villages in the country’s most populous state open defecation free, is backed by RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) India as part of its nationwide ‘Dettol Banega Swachh India’ national initiative, Pehel, a division of Shri Puranchandra Gupta Smarak Trust that has been actively involved in awareness generation and the state government.

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“For the past two years, i have dedicated myself towards raising awareness around importance of hygiene and to stop open defecation. I am really proud to be a part of this campaign which is taking a different route of engaging with stakeholders and creating change leaders at community level to bring about this behavior change,” Vidya said in a statement. Through the initiative, the program will reach out and work closely with Panchayati Raj Institutions members, natural and faith-based leaders, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), Aanganwadi Workers (AWWs) and mothers to drive a positive behaviour towards sanitation practices. It will include various activities like training of Panchayati Raj Institutions members using toolkits, exposure tours, sanitation chaupal, capacity building of frontline health workers through game shows and folk shows for sensitizing mothers. The progress will be monitored at each step to track the progress and achievements of change leaders will be recognised across these 100 villages in the state’s Varanasi, Kannauj and Etawah districts. The campaign was launched with the involvement of dignitaries like veteran actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha and Jack Sim, founder, World Toilet Organization among many others.

“We have a dedicated initiative targeting school children, we believe it is equally important to educate and encourage communities to adopt healthier hygiene and sanitation practices to create a positive impact on the society they live in. By the end of this campaign, we aim to help these 100 villages in Uttar Pradesh become Open Defecation Free,” said RB’s regional director, South Asia, Nitish Kapoor. According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and World Health Organisation (WHO), over 600 million Indians have no access to toilets. The proportion is worse in rural India – where 68 percent of rural households don’t have their own toilets.

(IANS)

 

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Eastern Congo Suffers From a Deadly Ebola Outbreak

Some people still refuse to believe Ebola exists and have hidden infected family members.

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Ebola, WHO
In this photo taken Sept 9, 2018, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, DRC. VOA

An outbreak of Ebola in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more than 200 people. Almost 300 Ebola cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began in August, authorities say.

The health ministry said half of the cases were in Beni, a city of 800,000 people, in the North Kivu province.

The outbreak is in a conflict zone where dozens of armed groups operate. Aid agencies have been forced to suspend or slow down their work on several occasions since the outbreak.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said his response teams “have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment and kidnapping.”

“Two of our colleagues in the Rapid Response Medical Unit have even lost their lives in an attack,” Ilunga said.

Ebola was detected in the DRC in 1976. The current outbreak is the tenth since it was first discovered.

The World Health Organization has warned the virus could spread to nearby countries, including Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

congo, ebola
Health care workers from the World Health Organization prepare to give an Ebola vaccination to a front-line aid worker in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Medical workers have lots of experience dealing with Ebola outbreaks in the DRC. Fortunately, they have new tools to fight the deadly virus. A new vaccine has shown it can protect people who’ve come into contact with Ebola victims, and more people have learned techniques to keep the virus from spreading.

Also Read: Uganda Readies Itself To Fight Off Ebola From The DRC Border

However, old problems persist with every outbreak. Some people still refuse to believe Ebola exists and have hidden infected family members. Traditional burial practices also put people at risk. (VOA)