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Feature Article of Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Columnist: Kwarkye, Nana Abena Afriyie

Are African germs harmless?

Nana Abena Afriyie Kwarkye.
abenaafriyiekwarkye@yahoo.com

Has anyone heard the argument that people who pay too much attention to best practices as far as hygiene is concerned die early? Funny isn’t it? These people often retort by saying; African germs are not harmful! I have done a lot of thinking and I just concluded that anyone who preaches that the germs found at this part of the world are harmless just want to find reasons to justify their unhygienic behavior. Who doesn’t know that cleanliness comes after Godliness? It is important to adhere to simple rules that can keep us healthy. The hand washing with soap campaign has been running for a while now. Emphasis is placed on the washing of hands especially when we visit the toilet and before eating. We are all preview to its importance and health benefits.
Let us take a tour to town and let me take you through various ways we unknowingly come into contact with germs daily. For those of us who always travel by public transport, most passengers hold on to the car seat to either alight or board the ‘trotro’ (commercial bus). I’m sure you have seen passengers who stand in the Metro Mass transport buses hold on to a safety rope. How about those who travel by taxis, by opening the car door, rolling the glass down or up is also a way our hands pick germs. Imagine the number of people who come into contact with the same surface? If for nothing at all we all reach into our pockets or bags for money to pay for the transport fare; who can tell me that our currency don’t get in contact with germs? Once we sit in the car, most people of whom I am no exception play with their phones thereby making it so easy to transfer germs unto our mobile phones. Sometimes even when we are eating we touch our mobile phones. How about the number of handshakes we exchange in a day either at work, church, mosque, funerals and the like.
I’m sure the first thing most people do when they get to their offices is not to wash their hands but rather boot their computers. Have you for a second paused to reflect on the need to washing your hands after using the ATM? How about the banking hall doors, hospital doors, restaurants and other public places? For those of you who drive your own vehicles, you touch the door of the car and steering wheels straight after you visit for instance an ATM or any of the above highlighted public places. When we get home from town we may transfer the germs to our doors, keys and anything we come into contact with before we wash our hands. Think about walking home too thirsty, the first thing you do is head straight to the refrigerator, it is easy to transfer germs from our hands too.
Thankfully, there is hand sanitizer which comes in handy and affordable. In the absence of water and soap, we can use the hand sanitizer to kill germs. Since hand sanitizers are advertised to kill germs, it implies the germs will still be on our hands but the only difference is that they will be dead. My advice is that you still need water and soap to wash off the dead germs off whenever it is possible.
I plead your indulgence to share with you some important health tips that we often take for granted. I call them my health rituals .Apart from always washing my hands with soap and water whenever I use the toilet and before eating; I always keep a hand sanitizer in my bag. The first thing I do whenever I get home is to wash my hands with soap under running water. Additionally, I always carry my own pen to public places where I will have to write such as the bank.
I must confess my sisters used to call me madam hygiene whenever they saw me sanitize my mobile phone, the doors in our house, the keys, padlock, my laptop, the refrigerator door, remote control and even the steering wheel. Thank God they have bought into my ideas now. Regardless of whether African germs are harmful or not, I employ you to adopting the same life style. Think your health first.
Let me draw down the curtains by taking you through proper hand washing process. It is always advisable to wash your hands with soap under running water. First wash the palm, the back of your palm and then take one finger at a time and wash in between the fingers. Remember to wash the tap too before you close it. Tell you what; there are a lot we can do to keep the doctor away. If only we will pay attention to the little details or health tips, we can stay away from the doctors consulting room.
Have a great hand washing life.

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