According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports, half a million and 150,000 children die from diseases caused by lack of proper hand-washing globally and in Nigeria respectively.
Most of these diseases are communicable, passing from one child who did not wash his or her hand to another.
With the recent commemoration of the World Hand Washing day on October 15th, parents, guardians and teachers are once again reminded of five diseases and infections that easily spread due to poor hygiene:
Influenza: Influenza is an acute viral infection that primarily attacks the upper respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, bronchi and, less frequently, the lungs. Worldwide, these annual epidemics are estimated to result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 290 000 to 650 000 deaths.
Typhoid: Typhoid, caused by Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. The Salmonella bacteria typically lives in human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food. More than 100 thousand cases are reported in Nigeria per year.
Chicken Pox: Chickenpox (Varicella) is a very common childhood infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is most common in children and is usually mild. When adults get it, however, they can get very sick. An average of 4 million people get chicken pox, with 10,500 to 13,000 getting hospitalized, while 100 to 150 die each year.
Meningitis: A serious disease in which there is inflammation of the meninges which are found in the brain and spinal cord. The disease is caused by viral or bacterial infection, and marked by intense headache and fever, sensitivity to light, and muscular rigidity. Between 1991 and 2010, close to one million suspected meningitis cases were reported in Africa, including approximately 100,000 deaths.
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a viral infection which can cause severe symptoms including liver failure, jaundice, abdominal pain, fever and fatigue. It’s often spread via contaminated food. The WHO reports that Hepatitis A is the cause of 11,200 deaths annually.