Over the years, human beings have considered hygiene and sanitation critical in their daily lives. This can also be seen in various Biblical aspects where cleanliness and hygiene are termed as a righteous act and behavior. Today, individuals have made efforts to come up with practical actions and tools that help keep themselves and the environment healthy. Furthermore, we already have a set of practices that act as a guide towards promoting good sanitation and health. Such include proper food handling and preparation, managing wastes, how to keep toilets and restrooms clean, and other mechanisms such as drainage. While many may have been victims of poor sanitation and hygiene, governments and civil societies have made it their mandate to teach people how to lives free of diseases such as cholera. Consequently, we have rampant information globally on hygiene and sanitation and their numerous advantages. Therefore, we have notable social and economic development of society today, something that was not there ealier. This paper will discuss in detail the importance of observing proper hygiene and sanitation and how it has helped avert various diseases such as cholera. Additionally, several biblical references will be discussed in instances where people were urged to observe hygiene through activities such as washing their hands and bodies, amongst others.
Observing hygiene and sanitation
Proper hygiene and sanitation are critical to a healthy society. This is because with the two in place, there are numerous health benefits. Hence, when there is limited infrastructure to promote sanitation, unsafe drinking water, and poor hygienic practices, millions of people are likely to lose their lives. Deadly diseases, such as cholera and diarrhea, are expected to increase. As a result, the state of the economy is likely to decline since sick people may not be much productive compared to healthy people (Taylor et al., 2015). Therefore, it’s critical to provide sanitary systems and interventions that will help reduce health risks associated with poor hygiene and sanitation.
Report given by the United Nations (UN) has shown that over 827,000 people belonging to middle- income and low-income countries die each year due to inadequate hygiene and sanitation. Most of these deaths are either caused by cholera or diarrhea. This is why the UN assembly has considered proper sanitation and hygiene a human right that needs to be promoted (Mbuya & Humphrey, 2016). With international efforts in place, countries are now working towards providing clean, affordable, safe, and accessible sanitation practices and drinking water. By doing this, we now have women and children who are healthy and acknowledge the importance of hygiene and sanitation.
Some simple activities such as washing hands after visiting the toilet are critical towards ensuring hygiene and sanitation have been observed. Other activities include washing hands before preparing food or after cleaning an infant’s bottom. By creating emphasis on the need for people to make this usual behavior and show them the advantages of taking care of themselves, then there are many benefits to reap. For instance, the health of the family is guaranteed as well as keeping the environment clean. Consequently, family members no longer have to miss work because they are ill with diseases such as cholera. The same goes for children who will not fail to go to school because they have stomach upsets. In other words, such acts are vital in establishing a healthy and wealthy society that grows each day. Hence, observing hygiene and sanitation is very critical.
Failure to observe proper hygiene and sanitation has also posed a challenge to the people living in the ever-growing urban areas. These places have problems with their sewerage systems and inadequate toilets that help manage human waste. Consequently, the inequalities among people has made it a challenge to access proper sanitation hence the increase in pollution of the residential areas. Congestion has also made it difficult to have adequate clean water for all, and as a result, most people continue accessing untreated water obtained from rivers and springs. This has posed a health hazard, as many people continue to die each day. Therefore, the need to inform people through campaigns and sensitization programs on the need to observe hygiene and sanitation is essential (Chakravarty, 2017). This is why governments have begun to manage practices of how people live and providing clean water and food to them. Moreover, we have the World Health Organization (WHO) that has led global movements aimed at advising governments and preventing diseases associated with unhygienic practices.
Improved hygiene and sanitation has a positive impact on family literacy. According to WHO reports, an increase in family literacy, the economy of a country is likely to increase by a 0.3 percentage margin (Kohli & Khan, 2017). This shows why it’s crucial to create awareness countrywide on the need to adopt proper hygiene practices. This is because this goes a long way towards the economic and social sectors of society. Additionally, those taking care of the environment will also have an easy time since people understand the numerous benefits associated with proper sanitation and hygiene. For instance, in India, we have campaigns meant to overcome the strain the government is experiencing the ever-deteriorating health and sanitation practices. This has been associated with the ever-increasing population and rapid urbanization. However, their efforts to sensitize people on the importance of hygiene have begun to bore fruits, and progress realized.
Research has shown that proper sanitation practices are not enough to guarantee good health. Instead, they should be accompanied by several hygiene practices. This way, it will be much easier to avert diseases such as cholera. Kohli and Khan (2017) explain, WHO has confirmed that many children below five years die each year from diseases that could be averted from a simple practice such as washing hands before eating food. Diarrhea is becoming a disease that’s taking the lives of very many people. Hence, studies have shown that handwashing with water and soap may reduce deaths by almost 50 percent. This shows the key to promoting, and sanitation is encouraging behavioral change in society. Communities and families have to understand the numerous benefits of proper hygiene and sanitation practices. Moreover, education and information materials on the same must be readily available with campaigns on hygiene lessons embraced.
Reasons for washing hands after visiting the toilet
Scientifically, it has been proven that a visit to the toilet may be the reason why people continue to get ill each day. Usually, many people do not find it necessary to clean their hands after visiting the toilet. Maybe, they are ever in a hurry to leave the place and engage in other activities. One study shows that only 67 percent of people leaving restrooms wash their hands (Taylor et al., 2015). An indication that this will become a health hazard soon if people continue this trend. According to research, while germs are invisible, they are very much present in toilets. They are likely to hang out in latrines for long before they become inexistent. Hence, it’s very much necessary to wash hands for every trip made to the toilet.
Back in the days, we had Florence Nightingale, a nurse who proved the importance of taking up seriously hygiene measures. While many people were dying because of infections, she sought to introduce handwashing rules in the British hospital where she worked, and this later helped save lives (Mbuya & Humphrey, 2016). Consequently, this shows how the art of washing hands is beneficial. It’s the first step towards creating a society that values proper hygiene and sanitation. Today, efforts to establish such a community are still far from being realized. This is because people, especially children under the age of five, continue to lose their lives each day because of using their contaminated hands to eat food. According to WHO, hand washing ought to be a practice that individuals need to cultivate, especially in children at an early age. This way, the ever-increasing deaths associated with diarrhea will no longer be there.
It’s also essential to wash hands with soaps and lather very well. Washing hands should not be just by using plain water. Scientifically, human feces are likely to carry particular pathogens such as Shigella, hepatitis A, Streptococcus, amongst others (Chakravarty, 2017). Hence, hand washing should be upheld as a means to ensure that these bacteria do not spread or contaminate food, for example. Also, toilet surfaces may have been infected by an infected person’s vomit or poo. As a result, failure to wash hands may lead to illnesses associated with food poisoning causing stomach pains, nausea, or even diarrhea. Therefore, the issue of washing hands after visiting the toilet is not debatable. People need to take up this seriously and make sure their hands are ever clean, especially after making a journey to the restroom. This kind of behavior will help promote proper personal hygiene and sanitation as well.
Biblical references on proper hygiene and sanitation
The Bible has laid much emphasis on the need to embrace proper hygiene and sanitation. God’s worshippers have been urged to maintain high levels of cleanliness and abstain from acts that may make them impure. Consequently, it’s a habit that they ought to cultivate to avert infections and diseases. Today, pieces of advice on the need to promote good health and sanitation has helped millions of believers who now understand why body hygiene is essential. For instance, the initial five chapters of the Bible seem to focus more on public sanitation and health. Several prescriptions have been given on how to handle circumstances that arise when dealing with sick people who fail to embrace proper hygiene and sanitation. Hence, some of these instances have been discussed in detail in this section.
Physical cleanliness seems to be much emphasized on Leviticus 11-14. The Bible’s teaching in this chapter provides specific rules that people had to follow to promote hygiene and sanitation (Borooh, 2018). Some of the rules may seem harsh and strange to us today, but still, with the understanding of how the diseases associated with poor hygiene and sanitation, these rules seem to make a lot of sense. For instance, there is an emphasis on the need for isolation, especially for those people who do not embrace washing their bodies. This shows how dangerous times were and how people were not ready to take any chances. All sick individuals had to be isolated in a particular place away from healthy people. This clearly shows how careful they were to prevent the spread of diseases through contact. As a result, personal hygiene had to be upheld and promoted by individuals to help avert the risk of contracting diseases and being isolated in the long run. It was surely a practice that people today can relate with hence understanding the necessity for proper hygiene and sanitation.
The Bible has associated cleanliness with Godliness. God has encouraged the Israelites to observe purity and freshness. According to Ledermann (2016), this shows how being neat and clean according to the Bible is essential. For the Christians, God has promised them love and blessings if they chose to be clean both outside and inside. Consequently, this kind of cleanliness has been associated with taking care of God’s creation. Pollution of the environment as a result of human greed and selfishness has been severely discouraged in the Bible. Hence, this shows that hygiene and sanitation are two things that the Bible is backing. For instance, taking care of the environment means that people will have clean water and food that they are consuming. There will no longer be diseases associated with taking contaminated food or water.
It’s also evident that worship and cleanliness are integral before God’s eyes. In the Bible, we have the Mosaic Law that requires all high priests to bathe more than one time during atonement. Moreover, those offering sacrifices were required to wash their feet and hands before the activity began regularly. Failure to do this, they would be defiling the entire ceremony and be unclean physically. In Numbers 19:18-20, we have God commanding the Israelites to bath their bodies and clean their clothes before going to Him (Ledermann, 2016). Anyone who defiled this would be cut off from the rest of the group and be punished. From this kind of lifestyle, it’s clear from the Bible that cleanliness was something that was seriously upheld by those leading the Israelites and the Israelites themselves. This way, they were able to avert diseases associated with poor hygiene and sanitation practices.
The Bible terms hygiene and sanitation as acts that involve keeping the environment and the body clean. Cleanliness is not only a personal matter but also a communal matter that affected everyone. For instance, those impure had to be separated from the rest, something that may have caused the division of loved ones. Consequently, the many verses in the Bible show that cleanliness, according to God, is a reflection of who He is and His divine power. In 2 Corinthians 6: 3, physical cleansing has been encouraged. In today’s modern society, we can easily relate to the issue of physical cleanliness and its importance. While people mentioned in the Bible may have been subjected to being clean without fully understanding the reasons, we know proper hygiene and sanitation is necessary. After all, averting harmful diseases and infections calls for people to embrace cleanliness and keep environments clean.
Leprosy is also a disease that the Bible has talked about. Consequently, it has been associated with uncleanliness. People who suffered from this disease had to be isolated from the rest to risk infecting them. The Hebrews were not allowed to touch them or go anywhere close to them. In Mark 1:40, when Jesus interacted with the ten lepers, it talks of them being “cleaned” and not “healed” (Borooh, 2018). This can be viewed as a Biblical principle explaining how lepers were associated with dirt for several years. In such a society, it’s evident that hygiene and health were among the things that people considered very important. Even after Jesus had healed them, the lepers had to go to the priests for cleansing. This was an act showing how careful people were in regards to their health. Today, people also ought to take seriously acts that may result in illnesses associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. For instance, an act such as washing hands should be taken with a lot of seriousness since its key to preventing many diseases.
The Bible also talks of Paul who urges Christians to present their bodies as a holy, living, and pleasing sacrifice to God. This poses a challenge to Christians who ought to critically analyze what kind of bodies Paul was referring to at the time (Romans 12). While we cannot always avoid being sick, it’s apparent that we make good use of the resources present to make our bodies spiritually and physically fit. The question, therefore, that needs an answer is what is it that should be done to promote hygiene and sanitation (Ledermann, 2016). It’s evident from the Bible that this is the kind of attitude Christians should embrace. They have a mandate to ensure their bodies that are termed as temples of God are well maintained and taken care of. Furthermore, this would be one step towards being the kind of worshipper God commands in the Bible. In modern society, personal hygiene and proper sanitation is also a decision that one should make to live a happy and healthy life. Failure to do this, there are serious consequences that are to be experienced.
Jesus, as a teacher has on many occasions in the Bible, encouraged cleanliness. For instance, Pharisees are being criticized for focusing on cleaning themselves on the outside but not in the inside (Mathew 23). From this teaching, it’s evident that hygiene was among the many lessons encouraged in the Bible that people ought to embrace. If Jesus were here today, he would still emphasize the need for people to observe cleanliness. Physical and spiritual cleansing is very much encouraged among Christians (Borooh, 2018). Hence, with this in mind, the country at large would have an easy time combating diseases associated with poor hygiene and sanitation practices. This is because people will be doing things differently and ensuring their hygiene comes first.
Proper hygiene and sanitation has been encouraged in places of worship. Consequently, Christians have been urged to keep these places clean and in good condition. Through regular maintenance and cleaning, they are bound to remain attractive and appealing. Also, in case of any damage, the church ought to be repaired and mended (2 Chronicles 34: 10). Today, this Biblical principle can be applied to our day to day lives. People should live in clean places that are free from any infections. For instance, they should regularly clean their houses and decorate them once in a while, making them habitable. This way, diseases associated with dirt will not be a bother anymore. Additionally, toilets should also be cleaned thoroughly and food being cooked too. As a result, healthy living will be attained, and hygiene and sanitation promoted.
In Israel, certain practices helped them deal with wastes. For instance, they were encouraged to bury it as a way of taking care of the environment (Deuteronomy 23:12-13). This shows how committed these people were in ensuring the environment they lived in remained clean (Ledermann, 2016). Today, although living conditions and cultures vary, a critical biblical principle can be borrowed from this practice by the Israelites. It’s crucial to come up with ways to ensure hygiene and sanitation are achieved. For instance, bathing regularly with soap and water should be one of the many habits that should be encouraged. This way spread of harmful viruses and bacteria will be dealt with and save many people’s lives. From the Bible, it’s clear that matters of hygiene and sanitation were solely dependent on a person’s willingness to live a healthy life.
Creating awareness on proper hygiene and sanitation is a sure way of preventing many deaths globally. Most people still do not understand the numerous benefits of cultivating behaviors aimed at promoting health and proper sanitation. There ought to be adequate information and education about the link between diseases such as cholera and poor hygiene and sanitation practices. Moreover, people need to make their hygiene a priority without being pushed. An act such as washing hands after visiting the toilet may prevent the spread of diseases in the long run. Additionally, we also have various Biblical principles that people can borrow from the Bible. Cleanliness has been given a priority in the teachings that Christians interact with each day. Therefore, there is no excuse for people who chose to be ignorant to understand why proper hygiene and sanitation is necessary. Globally, behaviors that lead to improved cleanliness and better health should be embraced and encouraged.
Borooah, V. K. (2018). Sanitation and Hygiene. In Health and Well-Being in India (pp. 29-65). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Chakravarty, I. (2017). Impact of Water Contamination and Lack of Sanitation and Hygiene on the Nutritional Status of the Communities. In Water and Sanitation in the New Millennium (pp. 235-246). Springer, New Delhi.
Kohli, R., & Khan, A. A. (2017). Unit-25 Hygiene and Sanitation. IGNOU.
Ledermann, W. (2016). Notes for a History of Hygiene taken from the Bible. Revista chilena de infectologia: organo oficial de la Sociedad Chilena de Infectologia, 33(4), 457-461.
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