Soap​—A “Do-It-Yourself Vaccine”

“THE second-biggest killer of children in the world is neither malaria, nor tuberculosis, nor AIDS. It is . . . diarrhoea,” reports the magazine The Economist. Yet, many of these young victims would be alive today had they and their families regularly washed their hands with soap.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that “appropriate hand-washing can cut diarrhoeal diseases by 43%,” says The Economist. “It may have an equally big impact on respiratory-tract infections, the biggest child-killer of all. A huge study carried out for the American army found that sniffles and coughs fell by 45% when troops washed their hands five times a day.” In developing lands soap is affordable for most families. Hence, it is fittingly described as “a sort of do-it-yourself vaccine.” And it is a painless one at that!

The Bible too encourages cleanliness. “Let us . . . cleanse ourselves from all that can defile flesh or spirit,” says 2 Corinthians 7:1. (The New English Bible) Although God is primarily concerned with our spiritual purity, he also considers physical hygiene to be important. (Leviticus, chapters 12-15) Of course, he does not expect us to go to extremes. Still, we should make it a habit to wash our hands after using the toilet, after washing or changing a baby, before preparing or sitting down to a meal, and on any other occasion when there is a reasonable likelihood that we could pass harmful germs or viruses on to others. By washing our hands regularly, we show Christian love for our family and all with whom we may come in contact.​—Mark 12:31.