Our environment.

Hello dear friends, last weekend was a very busy one ….Not the usual weekend I must say…

I had to visit an aunt that lives out of town and on my way to her house, I drove by some really bad roads and happened to miss my way. Got down from the car to see if the road I knew was blocked and then I saw a really disturbing sight.

A little girl close to five years old was eating her own excreta and a dog was sharing the meal with her. I looked closely and saw the mother of the child, carried away with peeling a heap of cassava tubers. Automatically, I called her attention and she hastily picked up the child and chased the dog away…

I was amazed!!!! I had to ask her to kindly clean up the mess and also clean up the child…I can guess this was not the first time the little girl was carring out such an act because the woman did not seem surprised one bit.

I carried my inquisitive self out of the area and continued on my task to find my aunt’s house once more.

Finally, reaching my destination I gave my aunt and my little cousin the story .My aunt was not in anyway surprised about the child/excreta/dog feast,rather she gave me more amazing stories about the hygiene conditions in the area, I forgot to add that she is a good talker and listener at same time . As usual, she reminded me why she is leaving 200 meters from that village is  because non of my cousins have agreed to buy her a house in any of the high brow areas in the city…stingy children she called them…(laughs)

I left aunty’s house after a long day of talking and sorting out her old cloths for my next visit to a charity organization that caters for widows and homeless girls…I drove back into the city  where the roads are wide, and everywhere seems clean and looks beautiful…I was sad!! I kept remembering the little girl and her meal.

The hygiene situation in most rural areas is very worrisome…sometimes whenever a suspected polio case is reported, I usually take notes of the environment and the hygiene of the family. Most times after carrying out on site investigations and collecting lab samples to confirm if the case is a wild poilo virus or not, I proceed to educate the caregivers/mothers about their hygiene…

The conversation often goes likes this,‘madam why is your compound this dirty? Do you know your children can fall sick in this environment?  look at the compound, it seems it has not been swept today…can you see your child eating from the floor which is very dirty?why are you living like this?

Then the woman replies “No doctor, I try to clean my house but you see my neighbours are very dirty people, they never sweep or clean and I am not a slave…if not for condition, I will not be living in this kind of place! And all this government they should come and help us, we are suffering and life is difficult.

Now, I listen and all that is playing in my head is ‘when will people learn how to take responsibility for some personal things?’……will the government come and sweep their houses or why must the neighbour issue affect their personal hygiene? Trying to be as calm as possible, I proceed to briefly explain   the implications of living in a dirty environment and the children that are at most risk.

I cannot function in a dirty environment, my productivity is greatly influenced by the cleanliness of my environment; in the home, in the office, everywhere, I am very conscious of cleanliness.

A person’s health status is influenced by a wide range of personal, economic, social and environmental factors. These factors are commonly referred to as determinants of health and they are –

–  Genetics – inheritance plays a part in determining the lifespan, healthiness and the likelihood of developing certain illnesses.

–  Individual behaviours and lifestyle – diet, activity, smoking, drinking and how we deal with life’s stresses all affect health.

–  Income and social status – the greater the gap between the rich and poor people, the greater the differences in health

– Employment and working conditions – people in employment are healthier, particularly those who have control over their working conditions-  Education – low education levels are linked with poor health, more stress and lower self confidence.

– Social support networks – greater support from families, friends and communities is linked to better health

– Culture – customs and tradition beliefs of the family and community all affect health

–  Gender – men and women suffer from different types of diseases at different ages.

– Physical environment – safe water and clean air, healthy workplaces, safe houses, communities and good roads all contribute to good health.

– Health services – access to and use of services influence health.

Some of these factors can be controlled; e.g a person can choose healthy or unhealthy behaviour lifestyles. However other factors, such as genetics  cannot be controlled.Proper sanitation is extremely important for preventing infectious diseases like polio, malaria, e.t.c .

It’s interesting to end it here that while a greater population of the urban population compared with rural has access to basic sanitation; overall risk population is greater in cities due to densely populated living conditions….

As little as we can, we should contribute to the health conditions of our direct living environment. All the sneezing and coughing in public places without covering our mouths and noses, spitting on the streets, dropping of refuse everywhere and anywhere can be controlled!!!!

Think about that little child whose immune system may not be as strong as yours that you are putting at risk…

Sincerely Yours’

By kickpolio

2 comments on “Our environment.

  1. At last I get the opportunity to visit the kick polio world press and i must say you have posted some really interesting and soul searching stuffs here. Thumbs up!
    I have just gone through your article on the hygienic conditions in the rural areas and your various recommendations for taking personal hygiene seriously.

    In addition to your various recommendations, i believe community buy in enhancing responsibility and sustainability of initiatives is key to decreasing predisposing health risk factors which cut across various disease areas.

    Successful community education, mentoring and ownership can see communities taking charge and monitoring ,in this situation the hygiene of the said community, I guess this is where CBO;s and various community mobilization groups sure play a significant role.

    We do not need the government to solve all our problems, a strong community can do more to save the lives of its inhabitants.



    • It’s really simple: clean and healthy environment equals clean and good health conditions for everyone…and like you said communities have a duty towards ensuring good sanitation for their children.

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