Contracting infectious diseases can be avoided by simply using better sanitation practices. Diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and food borne diseases can be prevented by improving personal and home hygiene practices.
Hygiene and preventive diseases
Studies conducted by UNICEF claim that “diarrhea is a leading killer of children, accounting for nine per cent of all deaths among children under the age of 5 worldwide.” In response to the growing crisis, a group of people around the world ─with an expertise in the field of hygiene ─ joined hands to share ways to protect children from infectious diseases. This body makes up the Global Hygiene Council (GHC). Their vision focuses on educating and raising awareness to the correlation between hygiene and health. As a result, they came up with five easy steps to combat the misery of preventable infectious diseases.
The first step acknowledges the vulnerability of babies. At a tender age, babies are known to have a weak immune system and are at high risk of contracting the disease in their first few months. One suggestion of administering special care is by following the vaccination schedule for newborns.
The second step is the need to improve hand hygiene. It is required for one to wash their hands in critical situations such as before touching food, returning from outside, after using the washroom, and after contact with pets. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) carried out a study that demonstrated the importance of good hygiene in relation to preventing diarrhea in children. For the duration of nine months, children were divided into those exposed to handwashing promotion and the latter that was not. The results showed that families educated about hand washing practices were 50 per cent less likely to contract diarrhea. Further research also revealed improvement in the child’s performance. The results were noted in skills such as cognition, motor, communication, personal-social interaction, and adaptive skills.
The third step focuses on reducing the risk of food contamination. Foodborne diseases can be prevented with proper food handling. Apart from one washing their hands before and after handling food, pesticides should be used with care to kill bugs. Food storage is also key for food preservation. Cooked food should be covered and stored using the correct refrigerating and reheating practices.
The fourth step highlights cleaning surfaces at home and school. Surfaces that are most frequently touched such as door knobs and remotes require regular cleaning to eradicate germs.
The fifth step is based on the growing concern regarding antibiotic resistance. Avoid the need for antibiotics by taking preventive measures. The immunity of the child can be improved by adding immune-boosting foods in the diet. This may include citrus fruits, apples and bananas.
These sanitation practices are used to evoke change for a healthier lifestyle. The desire to reduce the burden of common infectious disease will not only end with the 5 steps but rather signify the beginning of a ritual to be passed on to future generations.
The five steps were created to tackle the leading cause of death in children by making simple changes in personal and home hygiene practices. Adopting better hygiene practices will improve the lives and wellbeing of children around the world.
One possible challenge is educating people in remote communities, especially parts of the developing world, where they might not have amenities such as roads, water source, education institutions, etc. The five steps are created with what seems to be a hypothesis that both water and food sources are not polluted. Such variables have to be considered to ensure healthy practices. These factors are also a determinant of negative influence on health. The cleanliness of food and water could also play a part in the incidence of diarrhea and other common diseases.