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Washing hands with soap and water could send away disease

posted 25 Apr 2013, 21:29 by Sekuma Peter

I visited a public toilet, looking around; I assumed that I was the first person to use it since it was early morning, the toilet tissue was still whole and the place generally looked dry.

I counted myself lucky until I came out of the small cubical to the sink to wash my hands and alas! The sink was ‘wet dirty’, there was no soap but water had splashed up to the floor beneath the sink!

Although I was disappointed by the mess around the sink, I realised there was an opportunity in terms of toilet behaviour.  The ‘wet dirty’ sinks were indicators that some people are washing hands after use of toilet, which I strongly believe is a good habit that should be promoted for us to do away with some hygiene related diseases.

However, the practice of washing hands with soap and clean water is still a rare practice in our country. The Uganda Health Sector Strategic Plan II (HSSP II) report revealed that only 14% of the people in Uganda washed hands with soap against the targeted 70%.  

Moreover, studies in Uganda have shown that diarrhea is responsible for up to 20% of infant deaths! You and I will agree that diarrhea is still rampant in the communities where we live!

A doctor I talked to today told me that by not washing hands, we spread and contract diseases like dysentery, cholera, typhoid, murburg, ebola, hepatitis A, B and C among others. In other words all these could be avoided by simply taking a few minutes to wash our hands properly with clean water and soap.

How can we prevent these diseases and save our infants dying from an easily preventable disease? We have several options;

1. It starts with me and you: In our homes, we should ensure that there is clean water and soap near the toilets or latrines for washing hands and teach everyone in our homes.

2. Administrators of public places should always ensure there is flowing water and soap for washing hands near the places of convenience.

3. Health inspectors should be vigilant and ensure that public places provide running water and soap for hand washing.

4. Private Public Partnerships: soap producing companies should consider providing free soap for public toilets; this would be a great way of advertising themselves but also giving back to the community (social responsibility)

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