Handwashing practices among caretakers of case and control children < 5 years of age enrolled in the Global Enteric Multicenter Study in Mirzapur, Bangladesh were characterized and analyzed for association with moderate-to-severe diarrhea. Soap or detergent ownership was common, yet 48% of case and 47.7% of control caretakers also kept ashes for handwashing, including 36.8% of the wealthiest households. Soap, detergent, and ash were used for multiple hygiene purposes and were kept together at handwashing areas. Caretakers preferred soap for handwashing, but frequently relied on ash, or a detergent/ash mixture, as a low-cost alternative. Moderate-to-severe diarrhea was equally likely for children of caretakers who kept soap versus those who kept ash (matched OR = 0.91; 0.62-1.32). Contact with ash and water reduced concentrations of bacterial enteropathogens, without mechanical scrubbing. Thus, washing hands with ash is a prevalent behavior in Mirzapur and may help diminish transmission of diarrheal pathogens to children. Copyright © 2014 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Baker, K. K., Farzana, F. D., Ferdous, F., Ahmed, S., Das, S. K., Faruque, A. S. G., … Levine, M. M. (2014). Association between moderate-to-severe diarrhea in young children in the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) and types of handwashing materials used by caretakers in Mirzapur, Bangladesh. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 91(1), 181–189. https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.13-0509