Good Hygiene Good Health.
In order to translate the importance of clean water, efficient sanitation and the availability of cost effective soap I refer to global statistics where the WHO and the CDCP state that 9.1% of all disease and 6.3% of deaths could be eliminated by proper hand washing and good hygiene techniques.
Bacteria and viruses spread mostly by unwashed hands. Cleaning with soap loosens germs and the rinsing with clean water washes them away.
Access to soap was denied to the people of Uluveu until soap making workshops were commenced in 2007. Combined with education and the subsequent building of a soap factory in 2008 a methodology of soap production and a unique marketing system was born. This enabled a huge reduction in Staphylococcus Aureus, scabies, Buruli ulcers, Trachoma, Schistosomiasis, chronic Diarrohea and endless eye, ear, skin, body, genital and internal infections.
Clean water was rare and limited before the building of an RO Solar Desalination plant and shower block in 2013.
The 2009 census states that 38% of the population in Vanuatu is under 14 years of age. Uluveu has 39.8% with a baby boom in the last 4 years driving that statistic to over 50% of children also under 14.
In 2005 ALL children had advanced Scabies with multiple infections, many impacting on acceptable “Quality of Life Standards for Children”.
My clinical evaluation has seen a dramatic fall in these numbers to 15% due only to the availability of disease free water for washing and the introduction of soap into their daily routine. Education continues to play an important part as does the storage of excess water in tanks and an ongoing sanitation programme.
There is still much to do in these areas to eliminate disease entirely but as I have witnessed in the last 9 years, the process has been embraced by the people themselves as they struggle to have a better, cleaner, healthier life.
Sally Peet RN, Medical Officer NZHET
Ref: The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta)
2009 Vanuatu Bureau of Statistics
School of Medicine and Public Health (Winconsen)