Proper handwashing keeps rainy day ailments at bay

August 19, 2012

The "common cold" becomes even more common during the rainy season where a rise in upper respiratory ailments which includes cough, also happens because the disease is spread through casual human contact.

The simple act of handwashing, if done in the proper way, will prevent the transmission of most communicable diseases, Dr. Anjelica Joy G. Nacnac, head of the University of the Cordilleras (UC) Medical and Dental staff said on August 10, 2012.

Dr. Nacnac who spoke on the importance of handwashing at the UC grade school and high school departments referred to the pronouncement of the US Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in saying that "at least 80% of ailments such as the cold and other infections are transmitted by our hands."

She said it is a generally held principle in the medical community that handwashing is one of the simplest yet most effective forms of preventing the spread of communicable diseases. Dr. Nacnac said the US-APICE states, "in fact, handwashing is generally considered to be the single most important way to prevent the spread of illnesses."

The reminder to make handwashing a habit among students was made as an increase in cough and cold cases have registered in the UC medical clinic following relentless rainfall in Baguio City since the beginning of August.

Dr. Nacnac said the spike of as much as 50% in the number of cough and cold cases has been expected because of the effect of the combined damp and cold weather conditions on one's natural ability to ward off infections.

"The sudden shift to cold weather conditions due to the rains could put undue stress on the body because it has to maintain certain temperature levels," Dr. Nacnac said. She explained that stress lowers the body's resistance to infections making it vulnerable to ailments such as cough and cold.

She said students are especially vulnerable because of constant exposure to inclement weather. Lowered resistance coupled with casual contact cause the ailment to spread among the students' demographic. "This is the reason why we have been seeing more patients lately with mostly cough and cold symptoms," Dr. Nacnac said.

While the UC medical staff have been treating patients with cough and cold preparations, fluid intake as well as doses of Vitamin C to boost the body's resistance, students are constantly reminded that handwashing "at all times and wherever" will help prevent the spread of rainy day ailments.

Bars of soap were distributed to students after a demonstration of proper handwashing procedure. The soap was obtained by UC's community arm Project HELEN through the non-government organizations Children's International Philippines, Inc. (CIPI) and Clean the World.

Soap donor Clean the World recycles used soap from hotels all over the world and reconstitutes these into new bars of soap after a thorough sanitation process. The recycled soap are redistributed to developing countries in order to "combat preventable diseases."

Project HELEN earlier distributed boxes of this recycled soap to UC's adopted communities in Atok, Benguet as well as at the Springhills Elementary School in barangay Loakan-Apugan.

UC's Community Extension and Services Office (CESO) director Dr. Leonarda R. Aguinalde advised students that a good way to prevent the spread of rainy day ailments is for them "to practice discipline and respect." She said they can remind themselves easily of both values because it starts with the letters 'D' and 'R' which is short for Doctor."

Dr. Aguinalde said if handwashing is done voluntarily and without being reminded or admonished, then the quality of one's health could improve exponentially. Likewise, she said a respect for the other person's right to his or her health will remind us that handwashing is necessary after a visit to the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, or before the handling of food.

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