WHO roots for hygiene with Safe Hands Challenge

Safe Hands Challenge

Taking on social media via the influencer marketing route, WHO’s Safe Hands Challenge is an attempt to promote safety against COVID-19.

The World Health Organisation is spearheading the efforts against the spread of COVID-19, which also known as coronavirus. It is keeping the world updated with the happenings and disseminating information about precautions. One of the effective ways in the mix is that of maintaining hand hygiene by washing hands for about 20 seconds. As a means to spread the message, WHO has created the Safe Hands Challenge.

The campaign has been created around the hashtag #SafeHands. Two other prominent hashtags include #SafeHandsChallenge and #HandHygiene. All three of them are emoji hashtags with a picture of yellow hands as a visual element. WHO has released textual and visual guides on the proper steps to wash hands as a part of the larger campaign narrative against COVID-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation has played a key part in the campaign. The campaign video featuring him was one of the first that started the domino effect. Key designation persons of the UN, UNICEF, global health organisations, celebrities and politicians have played the role of influencers for the campaign, a few of whom were nominated by DG Ghebreyesus.

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They have all been asked to nominate three more people. Two prominent Indians nominated by Ghebreyesus include Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. Padukone took the challenge and further nominated Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virat Kohli.

Sachin Tendulkar and Anushka Sharma took the challenge on Instagram, with Sharma using multiple Stories to put the message across. One of the most interesting videos put up by influencers was by Hima Das, who shot it outdoors, adding a pinch of diversity among the washroom basin videos.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare played a key role in promoting the challenge in India and getting more people to play the role of influencers in their community. Several children can also be seen in the videos, helping strengthen the campaign narrative. Twitter too is playing its part in propagating the #SafeHands Challenge. They have also launched the emoji hashtag in Hindi as #हाथधोयाक्या and #हाथकीसफाईमेंभलाई.

As the campaign is going global, concerns are also being raised, reflecting the inequalities that make some people more vulnerable to others. Most of the videos being uploaded have been shot in clean bathrooms with running water, something a lot of people do not have access to. There are concerns about water wastage too.

Padukone specifically drew flak online for wearing a mask while shooting the video, unnecessarily. Among those criticising her included medical practitioners attempting to highlight the shortage of safety resources.

The campaign has been on for a week now and more and more influencers are joining the efforts to amplify the message. Among the brands, Dettol has rolled out a similar campaign initiative on TikTok as #HandWashChallenge.


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