Cleanliness-Sicknesses That Can Come From Lack Of It.
Cleanliness is of great importance in the prevention of many kinds of infections. Infection of the gut, the skin, the eyes, the lungs and the whole body. Personal cleanliness (hygiene) and public cleanliness (sanitation) are both important.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we all take more care to eat well, to keep ourselves, our homes clean and to be sure that our children are vaccinated. We could stop most sicknesses before they start.
Many common infections of the gut are spread from one person to another because of poor hygiene and poor sanitation. Germs and worms or their eggs are passed by the thousands in the stools or feces of infected persons.
These are carried from the feces of one person to the mouth of another by dirty fingers or contaminated food or water. Diseases that are spread or transmitted from feces to mouth includes :
- Intestinal worms (several types).
- Diarrhea and dysentery (caused by ameba and bacteria).
- Hepatitis, Typhoid fever and cholera.
- Certain other diseases like polio, are sometimes spread this same way.
The way these infections are transmitted can be very direct. For example :
A child who has worms and forgot to wash his hands after his or her last bowel movement, offers his friend a biscuit. The fingers still dirty with his or her own stool are covered with hundreds of tiny worm eggs (it is so small that they cannot be seen).
Some of these worm eggs stick to the biscuit, he or she swallows the worm eggs too. Soon the friend will have worms. His mother may say this is because he ate sweets. But no, it is because he ate shit.
Many times pigs, dogs, goats, chickens and other animals spread intestinal diseases and worm eggs. For example ;
- A man with diarrhea or worms has a bowel movement behind his house.
- A dog eats his stool, dirtying its nose and feet.
- Then the dog goes into the house
- In the house a child is playing on the floor. In this way, a bit of the man’s stool gets on the child too.
- Later the child starts to cry and the mother takes him or her in her arms.
- Then the mother prepares food, forgetting to wash her hands after handling the child.
- The family eats the food.
- And soon the whole family has diarrhea or worms.
Many kinds of infections as well as worm eggs are passed from one person to another in the way just explained above.
If the family had taken any of the following precautions below, the spread of the sickness could have been prevented :
- If the man had used a latrine or toilet.
- If the family had not let the dog come into the house
- If they had not let the child play where the dog had been
- If the mother had washed her hands after touching the child and before preparing food.
If there are many cases of diarrhea, worms and other intestinal parasites in your area, people are not being careful enough about cleanliness. If many children die from diarrhea, it is likely that poor nutrition is also part of the problem. To prevent death from diarrhea, both cleanliness and good nutrition are important.
BASIC GUIDELINES OF CLEANLINESS (Personal Cleanliness (hygiene))
- Always wash your hands with soap when you get up in the morning, after having a bowel movement and before eating.
- Bathe often; every day when the weather is hot. Bathe after working hard or sweating. Frequent bathing helps prevent skin infections, dandruff, pimples, itching and rashes. Sick persons including babies should be bathed daily.
- In areas where hookworms is common, do not go barefoot or allow children to do so. Hookworm infection causes severe anemia. These worms enter the body through the sole of the feet.
- Brush your teeth every day and after each time you eat sweets. If you do not have a toothbrush and toothpaste, rub your teeth with salt and baking soda.
CLEANLINESS IN THE HOME
- Do not let goats or pigs and other animals come into the house or places where children play.
- Do not let dogs lick children or climb up on beds. Dogs too can spread diseases.
- If children or animals have bowel movement near the house, clean it up at once. Teach them to use the latrine or toilet or at least go farther from the house.
- De-louse the whole family often. Lice and fleas carry many diseases. Dogs and other animals that carry fleas should not come into the house.
- Do not spit on the floor. Spit can spread diseases. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with your elbow or a cloth or hankerchief.
- Hang or spread sheets and blankets under the sun often. If there are bedbugs or scabies, pour boiling water on the cots and wash the sheets and blankets; all on the same day.
- Clean house often. Sweep and wash the floors, walls and beneath furniture. Fill in cracks and holes in the floor or walls where cockroaches, bedbugs and scorpions can hide.
CLEANLINESS IN EATING AND DRINKING
- Ideally all water that does not come from a pure water system should be boiled or put in the sun before drinking. This is especially important for small children and at times when there is a lot of diarrhea or cases of typhoid, hepatitis or cholera. Best of all is to have clean water piped into the house, or at least a stand-pipe close by. Having enough water is even more important than having completely pure water.
- Before eating fruit that has fallen to the ground, wash it well. Do not let children pick up and eat food that has been dropped. Wash it first.
- Do not let flies and other insects land or crawl on food. These insects carry germs and spread diseases. Do not leave food scraps or dirty dishes lying around, as these attract flies and breed germs. Protect food by keeping it covered or in boxes or cabinets with wire screen.
- Only eat meat that is well cooked. Be careful that roasted meat, especially pork does not have raw parts inside. Raw pork carries dangerous diseases. So can chicken. Wash your hands well after preparing it for cooking, before you touch other foods. Also be careful with chicken that has passed several hours since it was cooked. Heat it up again.
- Do not eat food that is old or smells bad. It may be poisonous. Do not eat canned food if the can is swollen or squirts when opened. Be careful with canned fish. If possible, give only foods that have been freshly prepared to children, elderly people and very sick people.
- People with tuberculosis, flu, colds or other infectious diseases should eat separately from others. Plates and utensils used by sick people should be boiled before being used by others.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN’S HEALTH
- A sick child should sleep apart from children who are well. Sick children or children with sores, itchy skin or lice should always sleep separately from those who are well. Children with infectious diseases like whooping cough, measles, common colds should sleep in separate rooms if possible and should not be allowed to near babies or small children.
- Protect children from tuberculosis. People with long-term coughing or other signs of tuberculosis should cover their mouths whenever they cough. They should never sleep in the same room with children. They should see a health worker and be treated as soon as possible. Children living with a person who has tuberculosis should be vaccinated against TB (B.C.G ) vaccine .
- Bathe children, change their clothes and cut their fingernails often. Germs and worm eggs often hide beneath long fingernails.
- Treat children who have infectious diseases as soon as possible so that the diseases are not spread to others.
- Follow all the guidelines of cleanliness mentioned above. Teach children to follow these guidelines and explain why they are important. Encourage children to help with projects that make the home or area a healthier place to live.
- Be sure children get enough good food. Good nutrition helps protect the body against many infections. A well-nourished child will usually resist or fight off infections that can kill a poorly nourished child.
PUBLIC CLEANLINESS (SANITATION)
- Keep wells and public water holes clean. Do not let animals go near where people get drinking water. If necessary, put a fence around the place to keep animals out. Do not defecate (shit) or throw garbage near the water hole. Take special care to keep rivers and streams clean and upstream from any place where drinking water is taken.
- Burn all garbage that can be burned. Garbage that cannot be burned should be buried in a special pit or place far away from houses and the places where people get drinking water.
- Build latrines or toilets so that goats and other animals cannot reach the human waste. A deep hole with a little house over it works well. The deeper the hole, the less problem with flies and smell. Make it 6 or 7 meter (20 feet), this is also applicable to water cistern if possible.