A Gentle but Serious Reminder: All of Us Should Practice Good Hygiene–Always

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This has been a constant theme in the Daily Observer newspaper—that all of the people, citizens and residents alike, should practice good hygiene.

This should be done first by keeping ourselves clean, followed by our homes, dwelling and work places, our marketplaces, neighborhoods and our entire environment—the alleys, streets and highways.
Why do we revisit this urgent theme? It is a follow up to our back page story last Friday, “Liberia Still at Risk,” in which we quoted a man who should know all about the critical importance of good hygiene practices—Francis Fordia, Chief Administrator of the Foya-Borma Hospital.

Remember, Foya was the first Liberian town hit by Ebola in March last year. A Liberian woman who had been visiting Guinea, where the most recent Ebola outbreak first started, crossed the Guinea-Liberia border near Foya, instantly transmitting the deadly virus. She traveled on to Firestone and soon, the virus was spread all over Liberia, which quickly became the epicenter, surpassing infections in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Fordia did something all good citizens of any country should do. He recently attended a medical conference in Sweden and Denmark, two Scandinavian countries—the other being Norway—which are all highly developed. Upon his return he decided to share with the public what he considered the most striking part of his experiences.

That is what good people do—when they travel, they observe some positive things they saw and upon return, share them with their compatriots.

He prefaced his remarks by this warning: “Until Liberians can begin to keep their surroundings clean, the risk of the rapid spread of infectious outbreak is high.” He cited malaria which still kills thousands of our people. “This is all because we don’t want to clean our environment. A lot of dirty water sits around where we live, with mosquitoes breeding in front and behind the houses.”

He further observed that people in Liberia go out all day, return home and without washing their hands, they sit down to eat. “Do you know how terribly you are risking your life?” he asked.

Mr. Fordia also referred to Monrovia, the capital city’s “endemic drainage problem,” that contributes to massive flooding . . .”

Now here is what Hospital Administrator Fordia shared from his Scandinavian experience: “While I was in Sweden I did not see one piece of paper thrown on the street. In every corner of the country I traveled, even on the highways, there are standard garbage cans because you are not allowed to throw trash from your car.”

“If we live in clean environments,” he admonished, “this will help us to live longer as the Swedes are doing.” He then asked this rhetorical (symbolic) question: “What’s so extra about them? They are human beings like us, but the difference is just our mindset, which we need to change.”

We call on everyone to emulate Mr. Fordia’s example. Whenever one travels and sees something good there, he or she should return and share it with us. Not all, but someone will take heed and be positively impacted—his family and neighbors, too.

The bottom line is, let us keep our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and general environment clean. How so often we see some of our most affluent people, riding these expensive, stained glassed SUVs, winding them down to throw plastic bags and other garbage on the highway.

That is aside from what taxi riders commonly do.

We call on all parents, school, office and business authorities to set aside a special time to instruct their workers on the need to practice good hygiene.

We call on all County Superintendents and all City Mayors, Paramount and Clan Chiefs, and all Tribal Governors in cities and towns around the country to launch regular clean-up campaigns in their various localities. The aim is to instill the habit of good hygiene and cleanliness in our people’s minds and habits, so that these become their daily routine.

Finally, we call on our new Health Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn, when she is finally commissioned, to make good hygiene and sanitation one of the centerpieces of her national health policies.

We close with the ancient and well known dictum: “Prevention is better than cure.”

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