21 April 2019


Health Department promotes hygiene through washing hands


Thebe Itumeleng


Washing hands with soap, properly and regularly, helps reduce germs and diseases, but many people still take this important hygienic requiremet for granted.

This is why the Bokone Bophirima Department of Health in partnership with the departments of Water and Sanitation, Social Development and Education and Sport Development, have embarked on a provincial hand washing awareness campaign.

The campaign is meant to mobilise communities, households, schools and workplaces towards washing hands with soap to curb life threatening diseases such as respiratory infections and diarrhoea, particularly in children younger than five years.

The past two weeks have seen health promoters criss-crossing the province, engaging various communities in dialogues aimed at educating them about the importance of hand washing.

Provincial Health Promotions Manager, Ishmael Boboko, said the campaign was mainly targeting areas with the highest cases of diarrheal related deaths for children under five years in all the province's four districts. Food vendors at taxi ranks were also visited to share information with them and ensure that they comply with hand washing practices.

"We also appreciate the effort of environmental health practitioners who have been of great assistance in educating food vendors on correct food handling methods. Quality assurance officials from the department have been with us from day one of the campaign and have assisted a lot with monitoring compliance to the hand washing protocols in various health facilities across the province," Boboko told Semphete.

According to the 2014 General Household Survey, a nationally representative inquiry into the lives of South Africans showed that there were over 60 000 cases of childhood diarrhoea per month and approximately 9 000 child diarrhoea related deaths in the same year.

Health MEC, Dr Magome Masike, said his department would continue offering educational campaigns to teach communities about the importance of hygiene.

"Our department's commitment to infection prevention and control, of which hand hygiene forms an integral part, is a year-round focus. Hand hygiene is the frontline defence against infections, as well as representing a pragmatic approach to reducing illness and disease caused by the spread of germs," Masike said.

He added that hands can transport disease agents from person to person, either directly or indirectly via surfaces, hence they are termed the highways to the spread of infection.

"Ours is to make sure that our communities know that hands which have been in contact with faeces, nasal excretions and other bodily fluids, and not subsequently adequately washed, can transmit large numbers of viruses, bacteria and possibly other parasites. We are working jointly with environmental health practitioners, social workers and educators, municipalities and our Water and Sanitation Department to carry forward the important message of hand disinfection," MEC Masike said.

The campaign started has been to the province's three districts and will end in Bojanala this week.

Caption: Health Promoter Samuel Ramotsho (in a green shirt) talking to community members during one of the dialogues on the importance of washing hands.