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Washing hands reduces diarrhoea risk

Washing hands substantially reduces the occurrence of diarrhoea among children from poor socio-economic background.

Washing hands reduces diarrhoea risk

Washing hands substantially reduces the occurrence of diarrhoea among children from poor socio-economic background.The results come from a study of more than 4500 children living in 36 low-income neighbourhoods in Karachi. In 25 of the neighbourhoods, washing hands was promoted to encourage the use of plain or antibacterial soap after defecation, food preparation, eating, and child feeding. The other 11 neighbourhoods served as the control group. The researchers from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, have reported that in communities where diarrhoea is the leading cause of childhood death, wash water was heavily contaminated with human faecal organisms, and no provisions were made for clean drying of hands. In such circumstances, washing hands with soap halved the burden of diarrhoeal disease.
Compared with children from control neighbourhoods, those from a neighbourhood encouraging hand washing with soap had a 53 percent lower rate of diarrhoea. In addition, the plain soap intervention was linked to a 39 percent reduction in the number of days with diarrhoea. No apparent advantage was seen for using antibacterial soap rather than plain soap, since the antibacterial agent has no effect on many organisms that cause diarrhoea.
Journal of the American Medical Association,
June 2004
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