Tag Archives: gastrointestinal diseases

Pakistan, NWFP: Militants cause gastroenteritis in Swat Valley

Militants blow up a an electricity sub-station, causing tube wells and the water supply to be disrupted; people resort to using dirty water and then fall sick. This, in a nutshell, is what has happened in parts of Swat Valley in North West Frontier Province.

Over 2,000 {people] have visited [the Saidu Teaching Hospital (STH) in Swat District hospital] since 2 October [2008], amid rumours that cholera had erupted in Saidu Sharif, capital of Swat District, about 3km from the city of Mingora, where the grid station was blown up by militants.


“It’s not cholera,” said Mohammad Khan, medical superintendent at the 500-bed STH near the River Swat. “It is acute watery diarrhoea which is also known as gastroenteritis and the media is misinforming people,” he said. […] WHO has sent cholera kits (also used for treating gastroenteritis) for 2,000 patients and samples are being collected to rule out cholera.


“People think because they are using running water, it is clean. What they fail to understand is that they wash their clothes, bathe and even defecate in the same water they use for drinking. Even untreated sewage finds its way into these streams,” said Owais Yaqoob, a doctor at STH.


The executive district health officer in Swat, Bakht Jamal […] is mobilising the mosques, and vehicles are making announcements through loudspeakers at street corners telling people to boil water and wash hands with soap before eating, and after visiting toilets. Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been working in the conflict zones of Matta and Kabal […] has hired three generators which are running tube wells on a rotational basis in Mingora city. WHO teams are also distributing chlorine tablets in Mingora.

Source: IRIN, 15 Oct 2008

Keeping it clean: New landmark study confirms the importance of home and personal hygiene in reducing infectious diseases and infections

“ACCORDING to results from the Hygiene Promotion and Illness Reduction study, children aged five years or under experienced significantly fewer respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin diseases when their families participated in intensive hygiene education plus the use of hygiene products.

The results of the three year study, which was conducted in impoverished urban communities in South Africa and presented during the 13th International Congress on Infectious Diseases (ICID) held in Kuala Lumpur recently, also show that hygiene education alone offers meaningful improvements in illness reduction compared to no education at the start of the study.

However when effective hygiene products (antibacterial soap, surface cleanser/disinfectant, and skin antiseptic) were used in addition to education, an even greater reduction in the risk of illness was noted”.


Prof. Eugene Cole

Prof. Eugene Cole

“The study was developed and conducted under the guidance of the Health and Hygiene Promotion Partnership (HPP), a community-based project founded in 2005 by cooperation between Reckitt Benckiser Inc and Brigham Young University [lead investigator Dr Eugene Cole], with members of the participating housing communities, under the approval of the Cape Town City Health Department”.


1. Cole E, Hawkley M, Rubino J, McCue K, Crookston B, and Dixon J. Comprehensive family hygiene promotion in peri-urban Cape Town: Gastrointestinal and skin disease reduction in children under five. 13th ICID; Read abstract no 68.012.

2. Cole E, Crookston B, Rubino J, McCue K, Hawkley M, and Dixon J. Comprehensive family hygiene promotion in peri-urban Cape Town: Reduction of respiratory illness in children under five. 13th ICID; Read abstract no 68.030

Read more: The Star Online (Malaysia), 06 July 2008

See also: Aeysha Kassiem, How to cut infection, Cape Times / IOL,  22 Jul 2008