A study done in Pakistan has shown that handwashing with soap prevents the two clinical syndromes which are diarrhoea and acute lower respiratory infections.
These two infections have been identified to cause millions of deaths of children under 5 years of age every year in the developing couintries, especially among people who belong to low socio economic groups. In the current study done in the squatter settlements in Karachi, Pakistan, neighbourhoods were randomly selected as the study group and the control group. The study group were exposed to promotion of handwashing. This group received antibacterial soap containing 1·2% triclocarban and plain soap. As part of health promotion activities fieldworkers visited the households regularly once a week and encouraged the residents to handwash after defaecation, before preparing food, before eating, and before feeding infants and to bathe once a day with soap and water.They also showed slide shows, videotapes, and pamphlets explaining about the health problems resulting from contaminated hands.
AdvertisementThe findings from the study showed that children less than 5 years living in households that received plain soap and promotion of handwashing practice had a 50% lower incidence of pneumonia as compared to the control group. Similarly children below 15 years in households with plain soap had a 53% lower incidence of diarrhoea and a 34% lower incidence of impetigo when compared with contrrols. But no difference was seen among the groups who received plain soap as compared to those who received antibacterial soap. The authors conclude that washing hands with soap reduced diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections by half and incidence of impetigo reduced by almost a third.