Wash Your Hands, Please

Do not urinate

These painted signs are all over Accra

Ghanaians treat Accra as their private toilet.

Because public toilets are non-existent and toilets that charge a fee are only located in a few select areas, many men urinate all over town.  Men urinate against walls or into open gutters that line Accra’s streets.

I recall once going from Spintex to Osu — a 16 km journey — and seeing at least six men urinating beside the road.  It’s so common and accepted that sometimes I’ll be unlucky enough to see a man peeing in my direction!

Fine.  This is not my country.  Who am I to criticize? Heck, occasionally, I’ve had to urinate while stuck in traffic.  At least, I will walk an extra 10 feet and find an obstruction to do it discreetly!

But what really gets me is that people don’t wash their hands afterwards.  Granted, running water is hard to find; nonetheless, Ghanaians must realize that many diseases can be passed along because of unsanitized hands.  This sheet lists the benefits of hand washing.  Diseases that can be spread due to dirty hands include:

  • Salmonellosis
  • Shigellosis
  • Hepatitis A,
  • Giardiasis
  • Enterovirus
  • Amebiasis
  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Typhoid
  • Staphylococcal organisms
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Influenza,
  • Streptococcus
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • The common cold

I religiously wash my hands after a day out.  I don’t know how many hands I’ll have shaken.  I don’t know who is washing their hands nor who is using hand sanitizer.  Furthermore, I required my male staff to wash their hands when they came to the office.

After three years, someone said that I should get over it.  But… it’s disgusting! (And I’m not the only one who noticed this habit.)

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