Availability and utilization of handwashing facilities among households in amolatar town council, amolatar district, Uganda
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Introduction: Hand washing is a low-cost intervention in the control and prevention of most communicable diseases like diarrheal diseases, respiratory disease, intestinal infections, skin infections, shigellosis, trachoma and most recently novel corona virus disease (COVID-19). These diseases are still a burden in most developing countries including Uganda. The high morbidity and mortality from these diseases are also associated to other poor WASH conditions including inadequate sanitary facilities and poor hand washing practices that provide favorable conditions for the spread of such diseases. Hand washing with water and soap at critical times is an effective intervention which when fully adopted can greatly contribute to the reduction of these diseases compared to when it is done with plain water. Unfortunately, the practice has not been taken up and remains poor in Uganda especially in rural and slum areas. In Amolatar, hand washing facility coverage is as low as 33%. Objectives: The study aimed to determine the availability and utilization of hand washing facilities at household levels through presence of water and soap at these stations. The study also aimed to identify factors associated with hand washing in households, availability and utilization of hand washing facilities in Amolatar town council. Methodology: This was a cross sectional study involving collection of quantitative data among a random sample of 345 respondents. Data collected through conducting face to face interviews using semi-structured questionnaires designed in English and translated to Lango. Collected data entered in Epi-data version 3.1 and cleaned, then exported to STATA version 13 for analysis. Proportions, measures of central tendency and measures of variation were used to describe the study subjects. Results: Over half (57.1%, 197/345) of the respondents were males. The respondents had a mean age of 40.6 (SD ±14.4) years and most (24.1%, 83/345) were residents of Epyel ward. Only 40.3% had hand washing facilities, 89.3% of respondents with hand washing facilities reported to wash hands after latrine use and 92.4% reported to wash hands with soap. Though all reported to have water in their households, 44.1% reported to face situations of water absence on some days. Education level, marital status and health system services were associated with presence of hand washing facilities. Conclusion: Over a third (40.3%, 139/345) of respondents had hand washing facilities though some self- reported to practice hand washing after latrine use. Over three quarters (80.8%) of respondents reported washing hands with soap and water with most of them (98%) prioritizing hand washing before eating than after visiting latrine. Over 90.0% (97.7%) of study respondents knew the benefits of hand washing with soap and water especially germ transmission reduction. Less than two thirds (60%) of the respondents reported having been visited by community health worker with 55.1% being helped by other organization to construct hand washing facility. The key factors that were reported as associated with the availability and utilization of hand washing facilities were; level of education, number of people in a household, religion, marital status, hygiene meetings, health workers visiting households.