Good hygiene makes the difference between life and death | Mission East

Good hygiene makes the difference between life and death


Afghan girl washing hands

For families in poor and isolated areas like the mountain village of Murkan in Afghanistan, sharing basic knowledge and skills like washing hands - knowledge that the rest of us take for granted - can literally make the difference between life and death.

By Muborak Ismoilova, Public Health Coordinator Afghanistan

Lailo is six years old. She is an inquisitive girl living with her family in the remote mountain village of Murkan in the Warduj district. The family lives in very poor economic conditions. Her mother Soro is a widow with nine children.
Two of Lailos other siblings died in early childhood from diarrhoea. Two deaths that could have been prevented if someone had only told the family about personal and household hygiene.

Afghanistan has one of the worst mortality rates in the world. One in four Afghan children dies before his or her fifth birthday. Many such deaths are from waterborne diseases, and other illnesses transmitted by poor hygiene practice.

Before Mission East came to the village, Lailo and her family used to go to the toilet out in the open, and every summer all they all used to have diarrhoea. Now the situation has changed. Mission East has assisted them to build a latrine in their house and has also installed a clean water supply system in the village. So now the family has both nearby toilet facilities and access to safe drinking water.

"Dirty people can be caught by many diseases"
Lailo, like other girls in the village attended health education sessions with her mother given by the Mission East team. They learned basic information about how disease is spread, and how to prevent it. Now she knows important times for hand washing and loves putting her learning into practice. As Lailo says, she is also proud to share such knowledge with her friends.

"I have learned some hygiene rules, about washing hands and so on, that I didn’t know before and I like doing this for real!"

"It’s the first time that someone has come to our place and has explained about hygiene education. I think this education is very important for us because dirty people can be caught by many diseases!"

Now Lailo and her family members are healthy and really appreciate health education that has been provided by Mission East health promoters. Many thousands of lives could be saved each year if people had clean water rather than drinking from rivers and other contaminated sources, and if people knew basic measures to take for personal and household hygiene in order to prevent spreading disease. This is exactly what Mission East is aiming to achieve as part of our ongoing work in remote areas of rural Afghanistan.