- More than 200,000 bars of free soap to be delivered to 63 Aboriginal communities
- Soap will help reduce the incidence of trachoma in regional Western Australia
Free soap will be offered to communities in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West and Goldfields regions to help reduce the incidence of trachoma and other diseases in regional WA.
The Squeaky Clean Kids program will provide soap to communities at risk of trachoma or trachoma resurgence, and promote hygiene messages there and in local schools.
Australia is the only developed country with trachoma, a bacterial infection which causes inflammation of the inside of the eyelid, that if left untreated, can cause scarring and blindness.
Trachoma is spread through contact with eye and nasal discharge of an infected person. There are no obvious symptoms of trachoma in its early stages, which is why prevention methods are so important.
The WA Trachoma Control Program has been effective in reducing trachoma prevalence in these communities from 24 per cent in 2006 to 2.6 per cent in 2015, and the Squeaky Clean Kids program aims to help reduce this further.
Soap for this program has been donated by SoapAid, an Australian not-for-profit organisation that collects, sorts, cleans and reprocesses soap from hotels into new bars.
The WA Country Health Service has partnered with SoapAid, the Department of Health's Environmental Health Directorate, the Aboriginal Health Council of WA, regional Aboriginal corporations, regional schools and local governments, to deliver the program in the four health regions.
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"The State Government is fully supportive of the Squeaky Clean Kids program and hopes it will help dramatically reduce trachoma and reduce preventable blindness in regional WA.
"In Australia, infectious diseases like trachoma are common in some remote Aboriginal communities. As part of the two-year program, more than 19,500 people in 63 Aboriginal communities will be provided free soap and health promotion resources about hygiene.
"We know that using soap regularly, and having a clean face and hands will reduce the incidence of trachoma and other diseases such as skin infections and diarrhoea. This program will ensure that communities have access to a consistent supply of soap."
Minister's office - 6552 6500