By Chux Odoh
Do you know how many children die from communicable diseases that are transmitted via poor hand hygiene globally every year? According to the World Health Organisation, nearly half a million! Do you know how many children die annually from poor hand hygiene in Nigeria? According to UNICEF, it’s over 150,000.
Those are scary numbers for something that could easily be prevented with a bar of Dettol soap and a bowl of clean water.
As the world marks Global Hand Washing day on October 15th, we’ve put together a list of 5 diseases and infections borne of poor hygiene that are amongst the leading causes of death globally:
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.
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 an 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.
Typhoid: Typhoid, caused by Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. The Salmonella bacteria typically live in human intestines and are shed through faeces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food. More than 100 thousand cases are reported in Nigeria per year.
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