Keep clean and stay healthy

Hygiene and sanitation

Notes to broadcasters

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Content: Prevent diseases such as cholera and diarrhea. Wash your hands. Keep food and water clean.


Many serious diseases spread from person to person because people don’t keep their hands, water, and food clean. Cholera and other forms of serious diarrhea, typhoid, and intestinal worms spread from person to person because people don’t wash their hands and their food. These diseases are caused by germs that enter a person’s body through their mouth in dirty food or water.

Here’s a story that shows how disease germs get into a person’s body.

Lito is a little boy who has severe, watery diarrhea. Every time he has a bowel movement, millions of tiny cholera germs pass out of him in his faeces. Lito’s mother helps him clean himself, but afterwards she forgets to wash her hands. Some of the tiny cholera germs get on her fingers. Of course, the germs are so small that she can’t see them and doesn’t know they are there. Later, the mother prepares supper. While she is handling the food, the germs from her dirty fingers get on the food. Her daughter Mara eats the food and swallows the cholera germs that were on it. Soon Mara has cholera germs in her body and is also suffering from diarrhea. The cholera germs have spread quickly from Lito to his mother and sister.

Although we have talked about cholera germs in this story, remember that other forms of diarrhea such as dysentery are spread in the same way. Worm eggs are also spread this way.

There’s another common way that cholera and other diseases are spread. Flies live in dirt, garbage, and faeces where they get germs on their feet. When flies walk around on your food, the germs on their feet get on the food. Then when you eat the food, you will swallow the germs that were stuck to the flies’ feet. Then you get cholera or worms or some other disease.

So how can you prevent the spread of cholera, worms, and other diseases?

1. Wash your hands with soap and water after every bowel movement and before handling or eating food.

2. Drink clean water only. Take your water from a clean source. Make sure it is safe to drink.

3. Wash fruit and vegetables. Peel fruits if there is no water available for washing. Cover food to keep flies off. Do not let flies or other insects crawl on food.

4. The whole family should use proper latrines and use them correctly. It is important that the latrine does not empty into the household water supply. Remind your children to use the latrine. Diseases spread quickly and easily when children don’t use latrines and squat to have a bowel movement anywhere around the house or in the yard. Children’s faeces spread infection too.

5. Bury household garbage. This is a healthy practice and it is also good because you can make compost with the garbage and improve your soil. Keep animals away from the house and water supply.

If we take more care to keep ourselves, homes, and villages clean, we can stop more diseases before they start. Health is your personal responsibility. It is not the responsibility of the government or the nurse or doctor. Make sure everyone in your family knows the simple, effective way to treat diarrhea if your preventive measures fail.

Remember: cholera and other forms of serious diarrhea, and typhoid, and intestinal worms are all spread because people don’t keep their hands, water, and food clean. Stop cholera. Stop typhoid. Stop worms. Keep yourself clean!




1. In this script we have used the terms “diarrhea,” “faeces,” and “bowel movement.” These words may not be known to your audience or may be considered offensive. When using the information, please choose local words that your audience will understand.

2. Other DCFRN scripts about clean water and treating diarrhoea are:

Keep your drinking water clean – Package 13, Item 14

Clean water from a well you dig near a lake or river – Package 14, Item 15

Simple water purification – Package 14, Item 16

Use sunlight to reduce harmful germs in drinking water – Package 19, Item 9

Your child with diarrhea needs special care – Package 19, Item 10

Information sources

1. Where There is No Doctor (2011), by David Werner. The Hesperian Foundation, Palo Alto, U.S.A.

2. Health update: refugees and displaced communities in Dialogue on diarrhoea, Issue No. 45, June 1991, published by Appropriate Health Resources and Technologies Action Group (AHRTAG), London, U.K.

3. Facts for life (2010) published by UNICEF, N.Y., U.S.A. Downloadable at