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How washing your hands can save your life

Yemi was in the toilet for the fourth time that night, stooling. As his body shook with the need to empty himself, he searched his mind for what could have caused this. He had not eaten outside the house, neither had he drunk anything apart from water that very day. Was it the gala he had eaten the day before? He stood up from the toilet, he could hear his stomach growl. Maybe the worst is over, he thought. He was wrong. By the morning, he was vomiting constantly. He spent the next three days in the hospital, a saline IV attached to his hand.


Every day we are inundated by germs, from the food items we touch to the door knobs we turn. These germs find their way into our mouths and begin the slow descent into our bodies. Thankfully, they are sometimes harmless, yet, sometimes, people, like Yomi, deal with the devastating effects. Yet, the simple act of handwashing regularly can save you a lot in hospital bills.

According to CDC:

Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it because someone coughed or sneezed on it or was touched by some other contaminated object. When these germs get onto hands and are not washed off, they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.

Handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds). Antibiotics often are prescribed unnecessarily for these health issues. Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.

This post is part of our work with the Handwashing Awareness Week 2017.

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