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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 

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This section provides key facts about personal hygiene and Indigenous environmental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health practitioners. Information is provided on the health effects of poor hygiene and the role of the environmental health worker in helping Indigenous communities practice good hygiene. At the end of this summary you will find information for specific resources that may relate to your area of interest or expertise. For environmental health workers it is important to understand why people have poor hygiene before the problems can be dealt with. The role of the environmental health worker is to promote good hygiene; they may often work on their own or with other health workers to achieve this goal.

Why is good hygiene important?

Good hygiene stops the spread of germs and parasites. Germs are very small microorganisms which cannot be seen with the naked eye, this means you need to use some form of magnification to see them. There are two main types of germs; viruses and bacteria, and when they enter the human body they can sometimes cause diseases and make people sick. Parasites are animals or plants which must live on or in another plant or animal to survive. Examples of germs and parasites which can cause health problems include:

Diseases enter a person's body by:

Some diseases can be treated by medicines at home; however others may require hospital treatment.

How are germs and parasites spread?

Many of the diseases above occur because of poor environmental health standards which make it easier for germs to enter a person's body. Germs can be spread by:

How do Indigenous communities stop the spread of germs and parasites?

By keeping the environment clean it is harder for germs and parasites to live and breed. There are many ways to stop the spread of germs and parasites, examples include:

Environmental health workers, as part of their role, need to find ways to get the information on personal hygiene to the communities. This may take time depending on how open people are to changing lifelong habits. The programs and projects and resource and equipment sections of this topic will provide environmental health workers with information to help them in this role.

References

Government of WA Department of Health (1997) Aboriginal Environmental Health Workers Manual 1997. Retrieved [Access 1997] from http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/cproot/1458/2/EHW_Manual_1997.pdf

Queensland Health (2008) Hygiene, Queensland. Retrieved 2009 from http://www.health.qld.gov.au/ehworm/hygiene/default.asp

© Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet 2013 
This product, excluding the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet logo, artwork, and any material owned by a third party or protected by a trademark, has been released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) licence. Excluded material owned by third parties may include, for example, design and layout, images obtained under licence from third parties and signatures.

 

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    Last updated: 4 August 2009
     
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