18. 10. 15
posted by: Ibrahim Sorie Koroma Health Education Officer – HED/MoHS

Sierra Leone in 2014-2015 experienced if not the most but one of the most dreadful Ebola Viral Diseases this world has even seen.

An epidemic that claimed the lives of hundreds of people, resulting to great economic, education and social loss, impacting negatively to the socio-economic living standers of not only the country but also the people, who in most times bear the brunt of health and social deficiencies in life.

For this writer, the epidemic came as a mixed blessings and one of such goodies is the practice of Hand Washing, which came prominence during the entire fight against the EVD.

There were hands washing facilities nearly in every school, offices, Pubs, communities to name but few, which could be sufficient to assert as contributing factor of the increase in numbers of Sierra Leoneans who practiced hand washing to 67% in the period of the Ebola Epidemic.  

However, it seems like this laudable healthy practice has died with the Ebola Virus Disease itself shortly after the country was declared Ebola free. Because, it looks as if the huge advocacy and money spent on awareness rising to ensure that Hand Washing is highly practiced has not reached its purpose. I know some will not agree with me.

As Sierra Lone joins the rest of the world to celebrate Global Hand Washing Day, which is globally celebrated October 15th each year to raise awareness on the need and benefits of Hand Washing, this writer would now proffer some of the benefits of Hand Washing with Soap, not only during critical times, but also as a practice to the point of being a norm to save lives.

Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and communities through hand washing with soap. It takes a whole Nation, Community, Village and the society to imbibe the practice of hand washing with clean and safe water with soap to prevent many infectious diseases/illnesses.

When Hand washing with soap is practiced regularly at key critical times, such as after using the toilet or before contact with food, it can drastically reduce the risk of diarrhea diseases such as Cholera and Ebola etc.

Some schools of thoughts have argued that the accessibility of soap in some of the world’s most poorest countries as a barrier for people to imbibe the practice of hand washing.

However, a review conducted in 2017 analyzed proxy measures of hand washing behaviour in multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and Demography and Health Surveys from 51 countries between 2010 and 2013, which find out that the differences in soap availability were small or nonexistent in the countries under review, signifying that availability of soap is almost universal.

The reviewed analysis also states that despite the world’s poorest households are less likely to have access to soap , cost is not the principal barrier to hand washing, as people always make use of soap to wash their thanks , laundry and bathing.

Finally, Hand Washing with soap is an easy, effective, affordable healthy practice to save lives, even so at the midst of world already laden with huge disease burden, finding it difficult to manage simple like diarrhea diseases.

Hand Washing is one of the safest and dimpliest ways to prevent the spread/ transmission of many diseases around the world.

Do it yourself, a practice that saves not only you life, but that of your loved ones and the world in general. As a global citizen, take action today to save humanity and the world.

Many health promotion practitioners would argue that investments in hand washing promotion are highly cost effective, and can maximize the health benefits of other interventions from access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure to nutrition Promotion.