Only Each year, Almost 2 million children in the developing world lose their lives due to diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Diarrhoea alone kills one child every 30 seconds. Data suggests that children from the poorest 20 percent of households are more than 10 times as likely to die as children from the richest 20 percent of households.
Hand washing alone is one single most effective way of reducing this huge number. Simple good hygiene habits can go a long way in averting the spread the effect of these diseases. Hands are the main carriers of disease-causing germs. If the practise of hand washing can be inculcated at the school and household level, it is estimated that one million of those deaths can be stopped. Washing hands with soap after using the toilet or cleaning a child and before handling food can reduce rates of diarrheal disease by nearly one-half and rates of respiratory infection by about one-quarter.
Hand washing can also prevent skin infections, eye infections, intestinal worms, SARS, and avian flu. It can also benefit people living with HIV/AIDS, and it is perhaps the most cost effective solution for so many problems.
The Indian Red Cross Society through its various health promotion programmes advocates good hygiene habits. The IRCS volunteers and workers in different areas of the country organise community health awareness drives in which safe hand-washing is an important component. World over, to successfully promote the practice of hand washing with soap, public and private sector partners are drawing on their comparative strengths, resources, and best practices to create effective, large scale, and sustainable hand washing promotion programs. The Indian Red Cross Society is an integral part of such drives and incorporates healthy habits in all its community activities.
Healthy children are any nations’ priority and safe practises must be taught at any cost. I would call upon all parents, teachers, youngsters and volunteers to take it upon themselves to promote this healthy hand-washing habit. The Indian Red Cross on its part will keep on fostering its objective of a healthy disease free country.
Dr S P Agarwal
Indian Red Cross Society