EDITORIAL - Clean hands â a recipe for health

EDITORIAL - Clean hands – a recipe for health

(The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2018 - 12:00am

Germs cause diseases, so staying healthy entails keeping out germs. Doing this sounds simple enough: keep surroundings clean, and practice basic hygiene, including handwashing.

And yet observing basic hygiene is not that easy for millions of people worldwide. Limited access to clean water makes regular handwashing a luxury for people in impoverished communities, including in the Philippines. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, during her presidency, blew her top during a visit to a public school near Malacañang that didn’t have running water in the lavatories. The problem was addressed in the school, but many other communities around the country are still waiting for the installation of modern water facilities.

If you have to draw water from a communal artesian well or buy water by the pail, you will use water sparingly, and regular handwashing will look like a luxury. Cholera, which has been eradicated in advanced economies, has resurfaced in underdeveloped communities that lack access to safe water and modern sanitation facilities. Infants and young children are at highest risk of potentially deadly infections arising from unsafe or inadequate water supply.

Convincing people about the health benefits of handwashing has taken on such urgency that a special day has been dedicated to it. This year’s observance of Global Handwashing Day on Oct. 15 emphasized the importance of regular handwashing in keeping food safe, preventing diseases and enabling children to grow strong and healthy.

With this year’s theme of “clean hands – a recipe for health,” the challenge is making handwashing a practice that comes naturally even to the poorest Filipinos. This is best achieved if there is universal access to modern water facilities.

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