Wednesday November 22, 2017

In most Low-Income places, Hand-Washing with Soap is Rare

There exists a plethora of reasons why people in many middle and low-income nations may not be habituated to use soap for washing their hands at home, including the price of the products

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Using soap for hand-washing. Pixabay
  • Initiating in 2009, both the surveys started including questions that queried the members of the household about their hand-washing habit
  • Hand-washing with soap prevents the spread of multiple diseases, especially diarrhoea and pneumonia
  • According to the reports, the researchers have suggested a number of potential solutions, including the idea of increasing the availability of soapy water which will promote its use as a less expensive but an affordable substitute

Washington DC, July 04, 2017: Most of the families in the countries with low-income, do not have soaps in their homes; a recent study has revealed.

ANI has reported that the study was conducted by Buffalo University, where the researchers with UNICEF, USAID, and others, suggest that the behavior of hand-washing has to be improved substantially in middle and low-income countries.

Pavani Ram, Swapna Kumar, and their colleagues have identified the proportion of households where water and soap was present at a hand-washing place in the house, using survey data collected from 51 nationally representative surveys. The percentages that they have noted range from less than 0.1 percent in Ethiopia to 96.4 percent in Serbia.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh Government Responds to UNICEF Report on Infant Mortality

According to the reports, Kumar stated that the findings underscore the necessity to improve access to soap and proper cleaning, along with hand-washing behavior in general, in many impoverished countries.

Co-author Ram was quoted as saying, “Hand-washing prevents leading causes of the 6 million deaths that occur annually in young children around the world. Never before has hand-washing been systematically measured in so many countries. These data are useful to public health programs and policy makers because they underscore the deep inequities that persist globally and within countries, contributing to these preventable child deaths among people living in poverty and in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”

Reportedly, the researchers dug deep through the regular habit of hand-washing, for the study and the data were reported in dozens of nationally-representative Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Initiating in 2009, both the surveys started including questions that queried the members of the household about their hand-washing habit. The surveys were administered in more than 100 nations about every 3-5 years, ANI has reported.

The researchers noted, “This analysis demonstrates the need to promote access to hand-washing materials and placement at hand-washing locations in the dwelling, particularly in poorer, rural areas where children are more vulnerable to hand-washing preventable syndromes such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.”

The report from the study reveals the following:

  1. According to MICS surveys, the availability of soap anywhere in the households ranged from nearly 21 percent in Senegal to 99.1 percent in Iraq and Serbia. In Africa, the percentages of households using soap with water at a hand-washing place range from as low as 0.1 percent in Ethiopia to a high percentage of 34.7 in Swaziland.
  2. The availability of soap along with water was higher in the Eastern-Mediterranean region compared to Africa and ranged from 42.6 percent in Afghanistan to a higher rate of 91.5 percent in Iraq.
  3. In Southeast Asia, it was observed that almost 79 percent of households in Bhutan had soap with water, compared to a lower rate of 21.4 percent in Bangladesh.
  4. The households with a low income often had extremely low access to soap with water for washing hands, compared to the wealthier households (for example, 6 percent and 85 percent at poorer and wealthier regions respectively in Nepal).

Hand-washing with soap prevents the spread of multiple diseases, especially diarrhoea and pneumonia, which caused approximately 1.6 million deaths of children worldwide in the year 2013, ANI reports.

There exists a plethora of reasons why people in many middle and low-income nations may not be habituated to use soap for washing their hands at home, including the price of the products, availability of the commercial goods which are affordable in rural areas, especially the ones with extremely poor road networks. The urgency to prioritize other complex expenditures such as- food, becomes one major reason amongst all.

According to the reports, the researchers have suggested a number of potential solutions, including the idea of increasing the availability of soapy water which will promote its use as a less expensive but an affordable substitute. Proper social marketing and private-public partnerships, such as the Global Hand-washing Day, which is celebrated annually on October 15, might also help increase the affordability in those households with the greatest need. Increasing access to soap and promoting hand-washing will become an important step towards achieving the target of reducing the rate of child mortality along with eliminating the inequities by 2030- a plan of the global Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the member countries of the United Nations.

The study has been published in the ‘American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.’

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

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Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)

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Amitabh Bachchan: Privileged to be top most influencer for Unicef

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Amitabh Bachchan: Privileged to be top most influencer for Unicef

Mumbai, Oct 25 : Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who has served as Unicef Goodwill Ambassador for the polio eradication campaign in India, says he is fortunate to be the top most influencer for the organisation.

Amitabh on Tuesday shared a list of names of top influencers.

“Among top ‘influencers’ for fight against polio, a list by Unicef. Privileged to be the top most influencer. Thank you UN!” Big B tweeted.

The actor, 75, has been supporting and promoting various health and related issues such as childhood immunization programme, anti-tuberculosis campaign and the ‘Clean India’ initiative.

“Unicef Polio; World Polio Day, every child deserves to live a polio free life! I worked eight years on it and today India is polio free.”

On the acting front, Amitabh, who has wrapped up shooting for “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, has two films in his kitty — “Thugs Of Hindostan” and “102 Not Out” (IANS)

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Nearly 58% of Rohingya Refugees are Kids Suffering from Severe Malnutrition, Says UN Report

The report highlights the dangers these Rohingya minors faced during the attacks when they were in Myanmar or when they were fleeing the repression to Bangladesh.

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Displaced Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Wikimedia.

Bangladesh, October 20, 2017 : Nearly fifty-eight per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.

The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) report also said that these children were highly exposed to infectious diseases, Efe news reported.

“In a sense it’s no surprise that they must truly see this place as a hell on earth,” said Simon Ingram, Unicef official and author of the report.

Titled “Outcast and Desperate: Rohingya refugee children face a perilous future” was released at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

After two weeks in Cox’s Bazar, a southern Bangladesh town where nearly 600,000 newly arrived refugees are crammed into a crowd of 200,000 Rohingyas who had fled earlier, Ingram described the situation fraught with “despair, misery and indescribable suffering”.

The report highlights the dangers these Rohingya minors faced during the attacks when they were in Myanmar or when they were fleeing the repression to Bangladesh.

The report also highlighted several drawings of children with uniformed soldiers killing people and helicopters spraying bullets from the sky.

In mid-August, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) carried out a coordinated attack on security posts in Myanmar, sparking a violent response from the military which led to thousands of Rohingyas in Rakhine state fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.

Ingram explained that very little is known about what is happening in Rakhine, since humanitarian agencies have not been able to enter the region since August.

Most of the refugees “are already undernourished, since the repression also included the burning of food stores and the destruction of crops”, he said.

According to the Unicef estimates, one in every five children under the age of five is suffering from acute malnutrition and about 14,500 suffer severe acute malnutrition.

Ingram explained that the main danger of infectious diseases have been mitigated with the vaccination campaign against cholera, measles and polio, but much remains to be done to tackle these risks.

He added the situation worsened with the lack of clean drinking water as these children consumed only contaminated water which is another main source of infection.

With regard to child protection, the expert welcomed the fact that the number of unaccompanied children had decreased to 800, with the identification tasks carried out by the various humanitarian agencies on the ground.

Regarding sexual abuse or forced or early marriages, Ingram explained that for now they have only punctual evidence, but that it is a real risk in any situation such as in Cox’s Bazar.

What does occur relatively frequently, he said, is child labour.

In the area of protection, the essential issue is the status of these people.

Not only do they have to be recognized as refugees, but also that newborns in the countryside or along the way, he said, should be able to obtain some kind of birth certificate.

Unicef and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are negotiating with the Bangladeshi authorities the possibility of issuing birth certificates for newborn Rohingyas, but the talks are still in process.

The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority that Myanmar does not recognize as citizens and are therefore stateless. (IANS)