Government must ensure homes observe basic hygiene

Friday August 14 2020

The message of a health expert is rich and clear. Dr Monica Musenero, a senior epidemiologist and presidential adviser on epidemics, has advised Ugandans to embrace preventive healthcare measures to reduce costs they incur on treatment.

While on tour of Ndejje University main campus’ medical laboratory last weekend, Dr Musenero appealed to the university staff to avoid living a compromised lifestyle that ignores primary healthcare guidelines right from the doorsteps of their homes (see: Let’s embrace preventive healthcare, says expert, in the Daily Monitor of August 11).

According to the epidemiologist, a situation where people ignore observing primary healthcare guidelines has been exacerbated by gaps in the country’s healthcare system, which focuses more on curative care, which is not sustainable in the long-run.

The advise, coming when the country is dogged by the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought the world to its knees, solidifies the critical need for citizens to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), which, among others, obligates the wananchi to wash or sanitise their hands regularly.

It is, however, important note that Dr Musenero is not telling the public something that is completely new. Keeping your body and environment clean, eating balanced diet and warm food, among others are very fundamental in fighting many disease .

Indeed, many adult Ugandans will recall with nostalgia, a time when it was mandatory for every homestead to boil water for drinking, have a clean pit-latrine, a well-swept compound/courtyard, a standing rack for drying utensils, and house (grass-thatched or mabati-roofed) with floors and walls well-smeared with cow dung to wade off dust, which would be inhaled and cause illness.

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All these efforts were implemented by owners of homesteads, enforced by local chiefs, and supervised by health inspectors from the sub-county dispensaries.

These measures were taken in order to prevent people from contracting, especially preventable diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, and typhoid, among others.

Therefore, it is disturbing that today, when there are health centre IIIs and IVs across the country, their effectiveness in promoting preventive healthcare practices leaves a lot to be desired.

For instance, although the overall toilet coverage in the country has increased, recent National Population and Housing Census figures released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), show that 8 per cent of the population stays in households with no toilet facilities.

This ugly situation has rekindled old quest for government to formulate a law that makes it compulsory for every household to have facilities that promote good health, including a clean toilet facility.

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