A seminar on boosting community health through improving personal and environmental hygiene was held in Hanoi on Aug. 19 within a project funded by the Unilever Vietnam Fund.

At the seminar, Dr Tran Dac Khu of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department highlighted the significance of the project, saying that it not only equips people with practical knowledge on personal and environmental hygiene but also helps improve the quality of people’s lives through reducing the incidence of certain diseases.

He also said that the dissemination of information on keeping personal hygiene to the entire people, particularly students, plays an important role in protecting community health while Vietnam is being hit by A/H1N1. The nation has 22 million students who will be good emissaries in spreading information on measures to curb the epidemic.

According to the survey released at the seminar, between 12-15 percent of Vietnamese people have the habit of washing their hands with soap before meals and after going to the toilet, and only five percent of those caring for children wash their hands with soap before feeding babies.

Around one million Vietnamese people suffer from diarrhoea each year and up to 90 percent of children in some places have worms. Five of the ten most prevalent infectious diseases are derived from water and personal and environmental hygiene.

The Lifebuoy firm took the occasion to announce a fund of one million bars of Lifebuoy soap for children in the national expanded immunisation programme.

The 25 billion VND five-year project is being carried out in 21 provinces and cities through 2010./.