3.5.5  Evaluating the status of personal hygiene

You will need to measure the success of your effort in the promotion of personal hygiene. It is not always a simple task to identify the absence of proper hygienic practice. Some of the methods that could be used widely are described as follows.

The presence of hygienic handwashing procedures

You should look for an instruction manual for handwashing procedures that should be available in public facilities (Health Post, health centre, hospitals). It’s a good idea for the procedure to be posted on a wall where everyone can see it as an easy reminder.


This is the easiest and most reliable method. In order to say if the surface of an object (body surface, eye, table top, floor, etc.) is clean or not, you should first understand what ‘clean’ means for those objects because the degree of cleanliness is judged in different ways. It may be clean or not clean; acceptable or not; or it may be categorised using a five-point scale: not clean, somewhat clean, clean, very clean, and super clean. You have to understand that the degree of cleanliness may vary between your own and someone else’s observations of the same object. Such judgement, however, is only applicable to visible dirt. It is important to realise that a surface that looks clean is not necessarily free of microorganisms.

Indirect way of assessing

You need to ask yourself why some infections are more prevalent in one village than another.

  • What could be the reason if you get reports that diarrhoea is a frequent problem in one out of ten villages?

  • You must suspect that poor personal hygiene practice might be one of the factors for the sustained transmission of the disease. Lack of adequate water for handwashing or open defecation could be other factors.

Post-baseline surveying

The behaviour of your community can be surveyed again to find out if your efforts in personal hygiene education have been successful. The design of any follow-up survey should be based on the original baseline survey so you can compare your survey findings with the baseline. The timing of a post-baseline survey will depend on the local circumstances. It should be long enough to allow time for behaviour to change but not later than one year after the initial survey.

3.5.4  How to promote personal hygiene

Summary of Study Session 3