You have learned in Study Session 2 that human faeces are the main source of diarrhoeal pathogens. They are the cause of many infections such as dysentery, ascariasis, schistosomiasis, cholera, typhoid and acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) (see Table 2.1 in Study Session 2). There is also growing evidence that diarrhoea is a significant contributory cause of stunted growth in children (Checkley et al, 2008).
The disease-causing pathogens that originate from faeces can be passed from an infected host to a new one via various routes. Promotion of practices that can prevent transmission of the pathogens that cause diarrheal diseases is therefore hugely important. These practices include handwashing with soap, proper handling of food and water purification. Where adequate sanitation is available coupled with improved hygiene behaviours, there can be dramatic reductions in the incidence of diarrhoea. Improvements can also be expected in other areas such as a cleaner environment, safer water and food, better nutrition and hence improved learning among school children and improved dignity and privacy for everybody, especially women.
This study session will focus on ways in which improved hygiene and sanitation can be promoted.