ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPORTANCE OF HYGIENISTS PRACTICES IN THE PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF WATER BORNE INFECTION
Background of the Study
The need to strengthen water safety and hygiene practices is a fundamental public health concern for all for the prevention of water borne diseases. World Health Organization (WHO) (1999) defines water as any substance, whether processed, semi processed or raw which is intended for human consumption. In a similar view, Akande (2002) defines water as any substance, prepared and eaten by people to take care of their physiological needs. Also, Ohiokpehai (2004) describes water as anything liquid or solid material which when taken and digested can provide the body with nourishment. It can be deduced form the above definitions that water is any substance eaten that can provide the body with its needs. It follows that water as a basic human need must be wholesome and safe. This is because good and adequate water promotes good health while poor and adulterated water substances are potential hazards to human health.
Water adulteration is a major public health problem which affects the quality of life of people specially, school children. Water borne diseases are serious health hazards and major causes of morbidity and mortality in the developing countries of which Nigeria is one. Bhat (2005) reveals that incidence of water borne diseases outbreak is due to micro-organisms like salmonella, campylobacter Jejuni or Norwalk virus. For instance, microbiological examination of various water items served by the water vendors in various parts of India indicated the presence of micro-organisms. According to Ankleshwaris (1999) water adulteration here refers to mixing of water with other substances that may be harmful to human consumption by water vendors.
Water vending helps in providing essential services to many of the urban inhabitants such as site workers, labourers, street dwellers, market traders as well as school children. Water vendors according to Lathan (1997) are small scale entrepreneurs normally seen in a simple set up facilities or stalls in public places in order to provide quick and cheap services to the people. The water vendors operate both in urban and rural schools, where they set-up their stalls adjacent to the schools or operate under a nearby tree. They provide different water varieties like rice, beans, okpa, agidi, ice cream, snacks among others. People who patronize such water are more interested in their convenience than their safety and hygiene.
Water vending is increasingly becoming popular perhaps due to some vital roles it plays such as providing of quick and cheap water services to the people as well as creating employment opportunities for women. Ohiokpehai, (2004) while acknowledging the vital role played by water vendors to the city dwellers observes that such water can pose significant health hazards to the people due to the vendors lack of hygiene practices.
Liu (2007) describes hygiene as a science that is concerned with environmental cleanliness of an individual or group or organization members to maintain healthy living. In this study hygiene is seen as all efforts towards ensuring good surrounding in order to prevent the occurrence of diseases or other health hazards. Thus, hygiene entails keeping once environment to avoid the ill-health of disease for a healthy living in the society. Muinde (2005) observes that water vending plays important role in the cities and towns of many developing countries in meeting the demands of the city dwellers. Millions of people are fed daily with a wide range of water that are relatively cheap and easily accessible regardless of the status of the water they eat form the vendors.
Vendors are not regulated by the local council health authorities, thus they operate without any monitoring of what they prepare and how they prepare them. Yet, they are found operating in the primary school premises where school children fall the victim of buying the water. Simoons (2006) assert that school children exposed to poor and unhygienic diets not only experience poor health but also retarded academic development. Simoons also states that body first uses energy to maintain critical organs functioning. It appears that poor families spend proportionately more of their income buying water from water vendors. Unfortunately, this cheaper water are generally the least nutritious. The water stuffs as a result of poor storage are contaminated and vending of such water to school children and other people endangers their health.
Agba (1994) observes that unhygienic practices by water vendors expose children to diseases like vomiting, abdominal pains, diarrhea and other forms of health risks in the environment. Although school children enjoy water from these water vendors, in many cases the water is of poor quality and it poses a serious health risk to the school children. Water vendors provide the bulk of these children snacks, breakfast, lunches in many schools in Nsukka Education Zone. Agba (1994) states that some of the primary schools are located at far away from the children homes, hence most of them leave early for school without breakfast, thus they depend most of the time on water sold around the premises by these vendors. Agba also observes that the water vendors use dirty water to wash their plates and pour out dirty water around their surrounding. Some of them equally appear in dirty clothes, and unkept hair.
The unhygienic practices in the preparation, cooking, serving and storage of water often lead to the contamination of water with pathogens and substances, that result in infection and diseases in the person that eats the water especially school children. These unhygienic practices by water vendors in the schools expose the pupils who eat their water to the risk of contamination of diseases like diarrhea, constipation among others. As a result the researcher is interested in finding out strategies needed to enhance the hygiene practices of water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State.
Statement of the Problem
The practices of water vendors especially within public primary school premises generate a lot of concern to the general public. Children are ignorant of unhygienic water and may not be concerned about the health hazard of what they buy and eat in the schools. Many water vendors in public primary schools are found not keeping adequate hygiene practices not only in their preparation but in the exhibition of their products for sale. From the researcher’s observation and experience some of them have unkept hairs, dirty foot wears, spit and cough without the use of hand kerchief, leave water open to flies and use dirty water to wash utensil in unhygienic environment. The above condition often leads to water contamination with substances that may result to infection and diseases among the school children. These activities of the water vendors call for urgent actions in the school environment. The problem of this study therefore put in a question form is: What are the strategies to be adopted to improve the hygiene practices of water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to identify the strategies for enhancing the hygiene practices needed by water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
Specifically, this study is designed to:
1. identify hygiene practices needed by good vendors to operate in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
2. identify personal hygiene practices needed by water vendors to operate in public primary school in Nsukka Education Zone.
3. identify environmental hygiene practices needed by water vendors to operate in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
4. suggest strategies that should be adopted in enhancing the hygiene practices needed by water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
The following research questions guided the study.
1. What are the hygiene practices needed by water vendors to operate in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone?
2. What are the personal hygiene practices needed by water vendors to operate in public primacy schools in Nsukka Education Zone?
3. What are the environmental hygiene practices needed by water vendors to operate in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone?
4. What other strategies are needed to enhance the hygiene practices of water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone?
There is no significant difference between the mean rating of water vendors and teachers with regard to strategies for enhancing hygiene practices of water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
Significance of the Study
The theoretical significant of this study is anchored on social learning and Humoral theory of water and culture respectively. The principles of the two theories place emphasis on acquisition of knowledge and behaviour change through interaction with the environment. The practical significance of the study would be of immense benefits to the following Ministry of Health, water vendors, parents, school children, researchers and the entire society. The findings would enable the Health Ministry authorities to be aware and appreciate the roles and problems of water vendors in the public primary schools. This will help them to come up with good policy intervention to promote water safety measures in the various school environments where the water vendors operate.
The findings would help water vendors to adopt good hygiene practices that will prevent water contamination. It would provide them with the skills to ensure proper hygiene as well as the need for them to maintain their personal and environmental cleanliness where they sell their products. The parents who give their children pocket money would also benefit. This will assure them of the quality and safe water sold to their children in the schools. The children themselves would benefit from the findings. They would be offered good quality and safe water by the vendors in the schools. The good quality water would help to improve their nutritional status.
Researchers interested in other areas of water research would find the findings as useful background knowledge in the area. The findings would benefit the entire society. This would go a long way in reducing the outbreak of water poisoning. It would enable the people to appreciate the need for water safety through adopting proper water preparation under better hygienic conditions in their homes.
Scope of the Study
This study covered the water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone. The study examined the hygiene practices of water vendors with particular interest on hygiene practices, personal hygiene practices and environmental hygiene practices of water vendors in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone. The study also examined strategies for hygiene practices that water vendors would adopt to enhance the hygiene practices in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.