W3 Understanding how diseases spread


All of us are influenced by our situations and our culture. Our beliefs about hygiene and how illness is spread depend very much on what we learn as we grow up. However, our beliefs can change as we learn new information.

This drawing is a useful way of understanding all the different ways in which microbes from faeces may get into our mouths and cause illness. There are seven main ways in which this can happen but all of them begin with faeces. If we do not use a latrine, microbes from faeces can get into our water supplies and then into our mouths, either by drinking the water or on food washed in this water. Microbes from faeces left near crops can get onto the fruit and vegetables that we eat. Flies can carry microbes from faeces and then land on a plate of food that we eat. After passing faeces, unwashed hands will carry microbes either into our mouths or onto food.

Look carefully at this drawing and become familiar with all these seven possible ways in which microbes from faeces can make us ill. 

  • Discuss each of the seven ways in which microbes from faeces can get into our mouths and make us ill. Which of them are most common in our community?
  • What cultural practices and beliefs do we have that help prevent microbes from faeces making us ill?
  • What are some ways in which we can stop microbes from faeces making us ill?
  • Think back to the exercise with the maps. How do conditions in our area make it harder for us to protect our families from disease?
  • Do we have any cultural practices and beliefs about faeces or hygiene that may be unhelpful in improving our health situation?
  • People who are poor may find it hard to make changes that will improve their health. How much does lack of money and other resources make it hard for people to prevent disease?