1.1 Background to the Study
Hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases (World Health Organization, 2014). According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) hygiene is an act that can lead to good health and cleanliness such as frequent hand-washing, regular bathing, wearing clean clothes and good practice of environmental hygiene. It is the art of keeping body clean and smelling fresh through proper body hygiene that washes off visible and microscopic dirt and bacteria. Hygiene is a science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health. Park, (2017) defined hygiene as the study and practice of keeping good health especially paying attention to cleanliness with the view to preventing diseases and promoting health; thereby, prolonging life. Lutans, (2014) stated that human environmentally related diseases such as malaria typhoid, diarrhea and dysentery are constant threat to life due to unhygienic practices. Personal hygiene is the act of keeping oneself clean and well groomed. In addition to its social implications, personal hygiene plays an important role in preventing both the spreading and contracting of diseases. Hygiene is very important for living a healthy life free from diseases. Poor hygiene knowledge, attitude and practices and inadequate sanitary conditions play major roles in the increased burden of communicable diseases within developing countries and therefore has negative consequences for child‘s long term overall development. Many diseases spreading from virus, bacteria, and protozoa microorganisms can be prevented, if good hygiene is practiced. Teaching pupils the importance of good hygiene will improve their health for a lifetime (Oyibo, 2012). Personal hygiene which is also referred to as personal care is a public health tool that is used for disease prevention and health promotion in individuals, 2 families and communities. Personal hygiene includes the following: regular washing of the body (bathing), washing hands when necessary, cutting nails, washing clothing, washing hair, brushing teeth, keeping feet clean, caring for gum among others (Oyibo, 2012). According to Postma, Getkate, and Vanwijk, (2014), school pupils are particularly vulnerable to neglect of basic personal hygiene. The consequences in terms of morbidity and mortality are also more severe in them compared to adults. The increased burden of communicable diseases among primary school pupils due to poor knowledge, attitude and practices of personal hygiene and inadequate sanitary conditions remain a concern on the public health agenda in developing countries. The hands are probably the single most important route for transmission of infection in the home and community, as they are often in direct contact with the mouth, nose and conjunctiva of the eyes. They also come in contact with food and water that is consumed. Studies have revealed a strong and consistent causal link between poor hand hygiene and gastrointestinal infection (Ananthakrishnan, Pani, & Nalini,2015).
Amongst all the communicable diseases promoted by poor personal hygiene, helminthic infestation contributes the greatest proportion. Although these helminthes can infect all members of a population, the most vulnerable group are school pupils (WHO, 2016). Long-Shan, ., Bao-Jun, Jin-Xiang, Sen-Hai, & Jack,(2015) observed that good personal hygienic practices encouraged through health education has been reported to be associated with low prevalence of communicable diseases in primary school pupils. Personal hygienic practices therefore plays an important role in preventing spread of respiratory infections, helminthiasis, skin infections, eye infections food borne diseases, spread of new 3 pathogens as in epidemics. Certain respiratory infections (common cold, influenza virus infection.) have also been linked to poor personal hygienic practices (WHO, 2012). Hygiene practices are preventive measures to reduce the occurrences of disease and are parts of good personal grooming. Hygiene does not only include personal hygiene related to food, clothing and exercise but also sciences such as engineering, bacteriology, public sanitation and waterworks (Oyibo, 2012). The researcher‘s belief, therefore, affirms the fact that prevention is better than cure. In support of the above, Park (2015), expressed that infectious and parasitic diseases associated with low standards of personal hygiene remain the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many developing countries. Bloomfield, Exner, Fara, Scottand and Vander (2017), stressed that positive personal hygiene will prevent water disease such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, bilharzias and typhoid.
Statement of the Problem
One of the major problems faced by primary school pupils in Nigeria is infections. The primary causes of infections are contaminated water and poor sanitation as well as poor hygienic practices, lack of personal hygiene coupled with poor sanitation favours person-toperson transmission of infection among primary school pupils in Plateau State. Hygiene plays a vital role in preventing some of the common communicable disease which spread mainly through water, food, personal contact and surrounding environment (Oyibo, 2012).The importance of school health has been acknowledged across countries since the beginning of 20th century (Ananthakrishnanet al,2015).
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