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.
The 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