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The Handwashing Dance: promoting healthy habits in Viet Nam

The Viet Nam Association for Community Health and video-sharing site TikTok are collaborating on a participative campaign to promote handwashing and prevent diseases.

As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads, disease prevention and public health – i.e. SDG 3 – have become top priorities for the world’s policymakers and communicators.

Participative video can be a great way to spread health awareness and encourage citizens to adopt healthy behaviours. That is why the Viet Nam Association for Community Health Education (VACHE) and video-sharing site TikTok launched a communication programme for disease prevention in February 2020.

The campaign is comprised of two hashtag challenges: #KienThucPhongDich (knowledge on how to fight COVID-19) and #VuDieuRuaTay (hand-washing dance). Both challenges encourage people to post videos demonstrating their knowledge and skills.

Responding to the challenge, Vietnamese dancer Quang Dang posted a video of himself performing the dance. The government of Viet Nam also created an animated video and song on handwashing techniques. Both videos got an unexpected dose of publicity when they were featured on the talk show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on 1 March.

The campaign originally aimed for 5,000 user-uploaded videos and 50 million views. As of 12 March, Quang Dang’s video had racked up over 4.5 million views on TikTok, while the hashtags #Kienthucphongdich and #Vudieuruatay respectively had 173 million and 75.3 million views. Hundreds of people have uploaded videos, sharing handwashing tips and performing the dance.

Around the world, many other organisations have posted creative content to raise awareness and prevent misinformation about COVID-19. In Nigeria, for example, actor Mr. Macaroni posted a funny video “No Hugging, No Touching” explaining how to reduce risk of catching the virus. Korean group Studio NNG created a #HandWashSonngChallenge, inviting fans to create videos to accompany the group’s song. A new website, washyourlyrics.com, helps users generate handwashing posters with lyrics from their favourite songs.

The World Health Organisation and Center for Disease Control and Prevention have also posted explainer videos.

The Government of Viet Nam sees awareness-raising and communications as a key SDG challenge. Its 2018 Voluntary National Review (VNR), for example, highlights the role of mass media in promoting gender equality and encouraging more sustainable production and consumption.

As stressed in the OECD’s forthcoming Multi-Dimensional Review of Viet Nam, transparency around government work is also a means to enhance public trust in policies and progress.

The VNR acknowledges the need to raise awareness of the SDGs themselves, particularly among young people. Citing a UNDP Youth Survey on SDGs, the VNR points out that nearly 3 in 4 young people have never heard of the SDGs. Moreover, while they are interested in the SDGs, they do not know how their own actions can improve society.

With 41% of TikTok users aged 16 to 24, social media partnerships such as the one on handwashing appear to be an excellent way to engage youth for sustainable development.

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