Will the Hand-Washing Habit Last Beyond COVID-19?

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Odota Joel, the writer at a hand-washing station at Kitgum RDC's office. Photo @ Norman

The recent coronavirus outbreak that has now overwhelmed the entire world came with some good habits for families and the general public. Besides activating solidarity in neighborhoods and the nation at large, the coronavirus pandemic also challenged some sanitary habits in Uganda.

Hand-washing stations were erected in a matter of hours and people have become more mindful of their hygiene practices in the past couple of weeks.

If you walk down the streets and other public places of Northern Uganda cities, you’ll see buckets, jerry cans, and drums with taps attached standing, while detergents and sanitizers hang on the sides.

Villages are no exception—no guest would be allowed in if they didn’t wash their hands at the entrance of the home. One would have to wash their hands at every entry/ exit of a place.

The dramatic surge in the hand-washing tradition was ordered by the Ministry of Health against the coronavirus disease as well as the repeated presidential directives passed in the series of nation addresses lately.

In Northern Uganda, many people recall such obligatory large-scale hand-washing practice in refugee camps during the war and enforced by the Village Health Teams to avoid the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, polio, hepatitis A, dysentery, and diarrhea.

However, the habit would fade off soon after a disease was dealt with. Don’t get me wrong, we wash hands everyday regardless of a foreseen outbreak.

The coronavirus pandemic just led to the erection of way more handwashing stations compared to the past ones and we’re wondering what would happen to the hand-washing spots if the virus were to end tomorrow. Would they still disappear as they did in the past?

Our thoughts are that hand washing is a great practice and could help prevent the spread of several other infections. According to the Ministry of Health, Uganda, diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid still remain a big threat to the health sector and claim thousands of lives each year. Are we happy with this number when we could actually avoid them by continuing some of the coronavirus best practices?

Northern News Wire calls upon the general public to keep their hand-washing machines intact to avoid the spread of the virus, but also the outbreak of other sanitation-related diseases because whether or not someone dies from COVID-19, death from any form of ailment is the same, as heartbreaking and uncalled for.

Take a stance now and tell your family, neighbor, leaders, businesses that hand-washing, though accelerated by the recent pandemic is a practice ingrained in our culture, helps prevent the spread of many infections, and so should be maintained past COVID-19.

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