Sanitation can be described as the effective use of tools and actions that keep our environment healthy. These include latrines or toilets to manage waste, food preparation, washing stations, effective drainage and other such mechanisms. Hygiene refers to behaviors that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health, such as frequent hand washing, face washing, and bathing with soap and water. In many areas of the world, practicing personal hygiene etiquette is difficult due to lack of clean water and soap. Many diseases can be spread if the hands, face, or body are not washed appropriately at key times.
While, both sanitation and hygiene are related, we must be taught both effective tools and effective behaviors to protect our health. Imagine how important these can be in places without a toilet or where hand washing has never been learned.
In Africa, despite recent progress in sanitation with increased investment and engagement, all but four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa remain off-track to meet sanitation MDG. In 2008, 584 million people in Africa did not have an improved sanitation facility, and of those 231 million practised open defecation. Analysis of access by socio-economic status shows significant disparities with the richest 20 percent of population in Sub-Saharan Africa being five times more likely to use an improved sanitation facility than the poorest 20 percent. The poorest are 18 times more likely to practice open defecation.
Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most cost-effective strategies for increasing pandemic preparedness, especially in resource-constrained settings, is investing in core public health infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems.
Health related impacts of poor hygiene and sanitation includes;
Undernutrition that causes approximately 2.2 million death
Poor sanitation and hygiene reduces human well-being, social and economic development due to impacts such as anxiety, risk of sexual assault, and lost educational opportunities.
Maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation in Africa may require a collaborative effort among – Government, Africans, NGOs, Healthcare providers, Parents, School teachers..
Ways of Addressing may include;
Proper hand washing with soap at key times
Discouraging open defecation
Hygiene and Sanitation promotion
Health sector financing
Monitoring and Evaluation
National policy Implementation
Good hygiene and sanitation practices, that are consistently applied, serve as barriers to human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus in homes, communities, health care facilities, schools, and other public spaces. Safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene services and medical waste management in health care facilities are essential to deliver quality health services, protect patients, health workers and staff, and to prevent further transmission.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes can plausibly contribute to control of zoonotic disease given the knowledge about pathogen transmission cycles, through provision of sanitation infrastructure that safely removes human and animal faecal waste from the human environment, provision of clean water sources, and improvement of hygiene practices at the community and household level.
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