Social Responsibility Not To Make Others Sick

February 01, 2018 5 min read
Social Responsibility Not To Make Others Sick

Do your part! Practice good hygiene to take care of yourself and others. You don't want other people to make you sick, so why is it fair for you to put others at risk? Here's some food for thought.

In today’s globalized interconnected world, everything is spread more easily than ever before: whether that’s information or germs. In many big cities around the world, people spend plenty of time in close quarters with hundreds or thousands of strangers. In a city as densely populated as Singapore, you come into contact with many people every day, both directly and indirectly. For example, in common public areas such as on buses or MRTs, at shopping malls, and hawker centres, or even at your workplace or school. As a result, infectious diseases such as the common cold can spread relatively quickly.

practice good hygiene

All it takes is one person to ruin the party.

One misplaced sneeze can interrupt the symphony of life. With this in mind, it seems to follow that individuals have a social responsibility not to make others sick. There are many other ways one can arrive at this conclusion, but it seems that anyone that takes time to rationally think through the spread of germs would arrive at this conclusion. Regardless of the theoretical or philosophical underpinnings, there appears to be an implicit understanding amongst citizens that you shouldn't sneeze or cough towards someone else: some may call this common sense. Regardless of what you call this, most people are agreeable towards the sentiment but often do not act in accordance with it. Hopefully, this post can help remind netizens of the importance of hygiene: the small but important steps we can take to keep others, and ourselves, healthy.

Individuals are powerful. With great power comes great responsibility.

People don’t understand or fully appreciate the impact they can have on others, or others can have on them. This leads them to not act appropriately in the face of germs. People need to be more disciplined in their conduct around strangers with unknown health statuses, or around healthy people when they themselves are infected with an illness. Basic hygiene standards are all that is required, but people often neglect or forget even these. A few measures can make an outsized difference.

Some parents ignore doctors' orders and take contagious children to playgrounds and malls, but experts say this could fuel epidemics. Keep sick children at home. Period! This doesn’t only apply to children. Anyone that’s sick should stay at home. In today’s world, people react to this with the sentiment “if it’s not that bad, it doesn’t matter.” That’s simply not true. Sure, you might feel fine but that doesn’t mean you can’t get others sick. People are often concerned with the missed productivity that arises from missing work. But that’s nothing in comparison to the domino effect that results from you spreading the illness to your colleagues. It’s much more valuable for one sick person to remove themselves from an environment in order to prevent spreading their infection to others.

An example that illustrates how you can get sick easily even where you'd least expect it is that of healthcare-associated infections. For more on them, see this article: Germs In The Doctor's Office? The Low-down on Healthcare-associated Infections. The essence of it follows:

"Waiting rooms, and even some examination and operating rooms, in hospitals and clinics are ripe with the potential to get you sicker – and they do so at a surprisingly high rate... They are infections occurring in a patient during the process of care in a hospital or other healthcare facility which was not present or incubating at the time of admission. In other words, you go in for treatment and leave with an infection that you didn't go in with.

The prevalence of these infections is much more rampant than most people expect, especially in developed countries where we all assume that healthcare facilities are sterilized bastions of cleanliness. Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by healthcare-associated infections each year, leading to significant mortality and financial losses for health systems. Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the United States Center for Disease Control, pronounced “new data show that far too many patients are getting infected with dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare settings.” In fact, according to the WHO, of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection.

Surprisingly, Singapore's rate of healthcare-associated infections is even worse than both the developed and developing country averages published by the World Health Organization. According to a 2017 study authored by over 20 doctors and academics from almost all of Singapore's hospitals and healthcare groups, approximately 12% of patients leave acute-care facilities with healthcare-associated infections."

basic hygiene standards

Everyone has a role to play. Our well-being is dependent on the actions of one another.

Preventing the spread of diseases is a social responsibility that must be a top priority for any nation or community. Yet, this can only be successfully achieved if everyone takes it seriously. If everyone plays their part in being responsible citizens and parents, we then ensure our children can all be healthy children and adults can effectively contribute to society.

One piece of advice: be a skeptical sharer. Obviously this goes against how most people want to be with their friends and family... I'm not saying don't share. The team at RingMD loves sharing! Just be careful about how you share. For example, a lot of germs are in our mouths and on our hands. So think about how you can defend against this. When it comes to sharing food and drinks, something that is essential to so many cultures, make sure to use separate utensils or straws. With regard to using public amenities like phones, water fountains, or even TVs and computers, make sure to clean them of germs and bacteria before using them. Something as simple as wiping them down or using hand sanitizer after use should do the trick!

This blog isn't meant to induce fear and make you a germaphobe. On the contrary, it hopes to help you see the world more clearly so you can act in ways that truly suit you and society. Ultimately the goal is to empower you to be more confident in the face of an uncertain and complex world. Be on the lookout for a follow-up to this article that describes some in-depth techniques you can use to protect yourself from germs and illness.

If you're seeking medical advice or are currently not feeling well, remember that you can easily and quickly speak to a doctor online using RingMD.

One parting thought courtesy of Sean G. Kaufman:

“Wash your hands before you go to the bathroom for you – wash your hands after you go to the bathroom for me.”


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