Health strategy of promoting hand washing is paying off

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social is reporting some success in its five-year program to promote hand washing. The incidence of diarrhea has dropped by 15,765 cases this year, from 153,263 in 2010 to 137,498 cases this year. The data is through the 21st week of the year.

In fact, Caja officials are so pleased with the results that they plan a hand-washing fair in the Plaza de la Cultura July 15.

Caja officials said that diarrhea is the second greatest reason Costa Ricans seek treatment at the local clinics. That data comes from the Sistema de Vigilancia Epidemiológica that tracks the various diseases and reports the running totals.
Such illnesses appear to be related to the rainy season. That is why the hand-washing campaign is being organized.

The most vulnerable age groups are children under 5 and those from 5 to 9, the Caja said. And diarrhea can be serious with youngsters.

The Caja has been pushing hand washing, mainly among students for five years. This was a spinoff from the bird flu scare. The message has gone to a million children directly.

To prevent the spread of such illnesses, the Caja continue to push basic hygiene, proper food handling and adequate treatment of drinking water, as well as good sewage practices.

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