Hygiene Matters Evaluation Begins!

Since April, we have been working on the preparations for the launch of the Hygiene Matters pilot in Togo.  The essential element of this pilot is the evaluation, in which pre and post surveys will enable us to determine changes in children’s knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding hygiene, as well as the rate at which children are being re-infected by intestinal worms.

We obtained support for the pilot from the Togolese Ministries of Education and Health in May, and since that point they have collaborated with us to write a detailed evaluation protocol and to produce an ongoing monitoring and evaluation system to accompany it.  The protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee in September.

The evaluation consists of several phases:

1. Teacher Training

First, teachers are trained to use the Hygiene Matters materials in their classrooms, how to administer deworming medication, and how to perform the activities required for effective monitoring and evaluation of the program.

2. Pre-Survey

Once teachers have been trained, two surveys are administered to children in the evaluation groups before any intervention is received.  The first is a written survey measuring hygiene knowledge, attitudes and practices of participants.  The second is the analysis of a stool sample to determine the prevalence of intestinal worms.  Children will be divided into three evaluation groups: one receiving both Hygiene Matters lessons and deworming medication, another receiving only deworming medication, and the last group receiving no intervention until after all phases of testing are completed (control group).  The purpose of these surveys is to determine the effect of the Hygiene Matters program on reinfection rates.

3. Hygiene Matters Lessons

Hygiene Matters lessons are then taught to the students in the appropriate evaluation group only.  Each student will receive a minimum of 4 out of the 6 Hygiene Matters lessons over the course of 3 weeks.

4. Deworming Medication Distribution

Once the Hygiene Matters lessons have been completed, the students in the appropriate evaluation groups will receive deworming medication (provided the prevalence is shown to be above 20%).

5. Post-Survey 1

Following the administration of the deworming medication, all students will complete another round of surveys identical to those which were administered prior to intervention to measure the immediate impact of the intervention.

6. Post-Survey 2

4-6 months following intervention, another identical round of surveys will be administered to those children who are participating in the evaluation.  This will enable us to evaluate the impact of the intervention over a longer term, and to assess the re-infection rate.

The first of these phases, teacher training, is set to launch on November 8!  The rest of the evaluation phases will follow, and steps 1-5 will all be completed before Christmas if all goes well.

This pilot is the first step in the process of reaching every child in Togo with the hygiene education they need to stay worm-free, long-term.  We are taking the time to evaluate our program prior to large-scale launch in order to ensure that what we provide to children is proven to be effective at helping them prevent the threats they face.  Many thanks to our financial supporters and to our partners at the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health in Togo, and to who have gotten this program to where to it is. Please continue to check back here for updates on how the evaluation is going!

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