Simu Safi (clean phone in Swahili) - The use of mobile phone SMS hygiene messages for information campaign on hygiene and handwashing
Many people fail to wash their hands after using a toilet. This is not a 'country issue' as both developed and developing countires have this problem. According to researchers, 1 in 6 mobile phones in the UK are contaminated with faecal matter; attributed mostly to people not washing their hands. And in the developing world, more and more people have mobile phones. Yet faecal matter bacteria such as E. coli can survive on hands and other surfaces for hours, especially in warm conditions (like on a phone screen), and can easily be transferred to door handles, food, back to the end user and potentially to other people.
Behavioural Change is a way in which to address this challenge. An app / text campaign is proposed which would send context appropriate sms's to mobile users (possibly GPS triggered), reminding them to wash their hands as well as giving brief instructions on how to do it properly (using soap and water, cleaning all the surfaces) and why (limit bacterial disease). it should emphasise the link between unwashed hands and contamination of the mobile.
It should be fun and creative, and thought also needs to be given to frequency so it is not 'spammy' in nature and its impact is maintained. Most importantly, the app / text message system needs to link the potential contamination of mobile phones (and therefore everything else one touches) as a result of unwashed hands after using a toilet.
If well designed, it will have immediate impact as the mobile is the most well used hand-held electronic device, both in the developed and developing world.
Potential users are local water companies, but schools, offices, clinics could also use the app. The expected impact could be a one off or a sustained campaign that promotes gradual awareness of the fact that everything we touch (if we don’t wash our hands) can end up being contaminated with E.coli and / or other disease causing faecal bacteria.
Success can be measured initially by testing it in a particular context (e.g. school?) and doing a before-after controlled swab test of mobile phone users to determine the rate of contamination before and after a cmpaigh. In the long term, it could be measured by the reduced number of people attending local clinics / hospitals with illnesses, as well as reduced days off work / school.