Behaviour change practices on open defecation among students in second cycle institutions in Upper East Region

A final year Public Health student of the University of Ghana, Legon, Miss Gifty Atampugbire, has launched a campaign to end open defecation in Second Cycle Institutions in the Upper East Region of the Republic of Ghana.

Miss Gifty aims at using behavior change practices among students to end what can be described as the biggest challenge of the region. As part of her passion to impact lives and promote healthy practices in her home region, enthusiastic Gifty nosed around looking for that one thing she could present on paper as project work for the award of a Bachelor's Degree in Public Health.
The opportunity presented itself when she read online about the issue of open defecation in Bolgatanga SHS(Big Boss), despite available toilet facilities in the school and so, she decided to move in to proffer solutions using behavior change practices. In an interview with Ghanawebs' Ananpansah B Abraham, she disclosed she has been engaged in various health sensitization ranging from STIs prevention and treatment, personal hygiene campaign, public health nutrition ad infinitum.

"When people are given the right information relating to their health and the environment, it empowers them to make informed choices, live healthy lives and stop activities that endanger their health," she said. At Big Boss, Miss Gifty took students through Health Belief Model, a model that increases pupils understanding of the dangers of open defecation and to lead them through a behavior change towards open defecation free.

She commended students for their excellent contributions and encouraged them to make good use of available toilet facilities, whilst calling on teachers and authorities to periodically check on the status of school toilets. According to her, the program will be extended to all senior high schools in the region in other to help effect positive health practices.
On the way forward,she advised parents to teach children to practice and adhere to using toilet facilities at homes and charged all health professionals,especially, Public Health Nurses and Environmental Health and Sanitation Personnel in the region to take up the challenge and conduct massive public education and sensitization as well as periodic monitoring to ensure the region is declared Open defecation free. "We must treat public built latrines like our own only then can we handle them well for sustainable usage," she added.
She called on government and other benevolent organizations to support build more toilets for second cycle institutions to ease the burden on the already existing ones.
She suggested to custodial lawmakers to help in the fight against open defecation by integrating open defecation messages into already ritualized cultural practices such as “No loo, no bride”. She presented cleaning equipment and detergents to the school at the end of the program.

The Assistant Headmaster thanked her for taking it upon herself to be an agent of change in society. He added that they will ensure what has happened today never dies off and asked that she visits again to see the change she’s fighting for.