HomeIndiaSwachhata Diwas, Mahatma Gandhi and Narendra Modi's dream of a clean India

Swachhata Diwas, Mahatma Gandhi and Narendra Modi’s dream of a clean India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ANI

Launched as a campaign in 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is India’s largest cleanliness drive to date with three million government employees, school students, and college students from all parts of India participating in 4,041 statutory cities, towns and associated rural areas.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been one of the most ambitious public initiatives India has ever seen. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the movement on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on 2 October, 2014, a day that would henceforth be celebrated as Swachhata Diwas, generations of Indians had suffered through lack of sanitation and the scourge of poor hygiene.

What started as a campaign from the Centre is today a national movement (Jan Andolan) that also aims to provide sanitation facilities to every family including toilets, solid and liquid waste disposal systems, village cleanliness, and safe and adequate drinking water supply that will address air, water and soil-borne diseases like jaundice, cholera, diarrhoea, ascariasis, leptospirosis, intestinal worm infestations, ringworm, scabies, schistosomiasis, trachoma, etc.

Public health facilities are foremost machinery to cater to healthcare needs of our society, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene to prevent infections and to deliver quality healthcare services that ultimately motivate patients for a healthy and clean environment through behaviour modification.

Patients expect a clean and inviting atmosphere when they visit a health care facility for better health outcomes. Swachhta Guidelines for Public Health Facilities are being issued separately to match this effort under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India launched the initiative named as Kayakalp.

The initiative was initially introduced for divisional and district level health facilities and later extended up to Sub health centres level to reach the last person. The objective of this initiative is to promote cleanliness, hygiene and Infection control practices at health facilities and to incentivise and recognise exemplary performing facility teams for adhering to standard protocols through peer and external assessment of performance related to hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation.

Patient satisfaction with hospital cleanliness performance has now been linked under ‘Mera Aspataal’ initiative under the Kayakalp scheme. Our health facilities are actively working through addressing quality through hospital/facility upkeep, sanitation and hygiene, waste management, and infection control. support services, hygiene promotion, cleanliness beyond hospital/facility boundary wall and Eco-friendly facility with an expanded scope from facility-specific standards to health systems functions.

Our villages, towns and cities should safeguard the health of our people by adopting modern methods of liquid and solid waste management to protect our stock of clean water, clean air and clean land. Not only will such stocks of clean water help our sanitation processes, but they will also ensure the benefits of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan last generations.

In June 2017, VISHWAS’ (Village based Initiative to Synergise Health, Water and Sanitation) a VHSNC Campaign Initiative for Swachhta and Swasthya was been announced to be carried out under the leadership and guidance of VHSNCs and to build a cooperative and collective initiative at household, panchayat and community level, for improving water, sanitation and hygiene situation and its impact on health and quality of life.

The ongoing movement requires more intersectoral convergence with departments like Smart City Mission(creating wellness spaces in cities), National Clean Air Programme (taking air pollution in a comprehensive manner), Local Self-Government (conducting cleanliness drives and plugging runs by PRIs and Urban Local Bodies), National Livelihood Mission (mobilising community for wellness activities), FSSAI (promoting eat healthy and eat safe through eat right movement), Jal Sakti (Swachh Swasthya Sarvatra), PHED (Public Health Engineering Department) etc.

Creating a platform for local actions, empowering communities to participate in planning and implementation, awareness generation and adoption of hygienic practices on water sanitation and hygiene targeting promotional and preventive approach against water, air and soil borne illnesses and diseases is very much required and called for.

The author is Head of Health at Save the Children, India. Views are personal.

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