Sunday, August 9

Prevention is better than cure

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Cleaning and disinfection can help prevent germs from spreading in the wake of Covid-19

Fogging at Ngu’s former kindergarten at Upper Lanang Road, Sibu.

IMPROVING quality of life means enhancing the standard of living by ensuring good health, happiness, and vitality in daily life.

The managing director of a sanitisation company, Jotham Ngu, who highlighted this point, noted that living conditions in Malaysia had greatly improved compared to five decades ago.

“Improvement happens when our mindset changes. We wash our hands before meals, brush our teeth after meals, wear masks if we are sick, and practise personal hygiene to stay in good health.

“These weren’t done during our grandparents’ time. Neglecting hygiene lowers the quality of life,” he said.

According to him, people tended to get sick more easily in the past.

Jotham Ngu

He remembers the time his uncle’s grandfather was diagnosed with appendicitis. It should have been a minor operation but it had not gone well because the instruments had not been properly sterilised.

“A life had been lost because of virus and bacteria, which we cannot see with our naked eye,” he said, alluding to the importance of maintaining a high standard of hygiene and keeping the living environment clean.

 

Significant progress

He acknowledged Malaysia had made significant progress in upgrading public health compared to countries such as Bangladesh, India, and those in Africa, which, he noted, were prone to influenza and disease outbreaks.

“When we don’t see virus or bacteria, we tend to neglect the health threats they pose, unaware that these threats may be fatal. Take the Covid-19 pandemic for example. When the outbreak hit, some countries such as Taiwan and New Zealand reacted quickly with the necessary measures to protect their citizens.

“The reason for their success is not merely the strict safeguards imposed but also the high awareness of personal hygiene among the population. This has helped save thousands of lives. Indeed, prevention is better than cure.”

He stressed that when lives were at risk, economic activities would suffer, society would lose vitality, and people would face depression, leading to deterioration in the quality of life.

“We are seeing several first world countries reeling from the deleterious effects of the pandemic for taking the Covid-19 virus lightly, causing thousands of deaths, economic recession and social depression.

“While technologies have improved over the years, there is no guarantee Covid-19 will be the last pandemic known to mankind. We may not be able to avoid a virus outbreak but we can prevent it from the spreading. Hence, people should not underestimate the importance of personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness.

“Hopefully, by introducing disinfection service, we can provide a means to improve the quality of life. But this isn’t the ultimate tool – our mindset on hygiene is more crucial.

“So awareness plus disinfection will ensure a better living environment and the well-being of our communities even after the containment of Covid-19 or other types of pandemic.”

 

Getting message across

Ngu said amidst the novel coronavirus outbreak, a lot of people were looking for disinfection services but did not know who to approach locally.

He hoped through publicity, the availability of such a service could get across to more people.

However, he pointed out that even after cleaning and disinfection, it’s still very important to wash one’s hands and maintain social distancing “as these practices are the best prevention against infections and, more importantly, they work”.

“So as you can see, with such wholesome practices, Malaysia, on the whole, has seen fewer positive cases. It’s same with disinfection. Maybe we don’t see the result instantly but the process will have long-term health benefits.

Ngu (fifth left) and others at the recent disinfection cleaning of the kindergarten.

“It will improve the quality of life. Countries such as Taiwan, Japan, and Korea are emphasising on frequent cleaning and disinfection. This is important because even after the Covid-19 outbreak has ended, who knows one day another type of virus may emerge. Like in China now, swine flu is resurfacing and there is no knowing how it will spread.”

Ngu noted that historically, there has been one virus pandemic every century – the last and hitherto the biggest, known as the Spanish Flu, occurred in 1912.

Over the years, there have also been outbreaks of H1N1 (the 2009 flu pandemic primarily affecting children and young and middle-aged adults) SARS, Ebola, and now Covid-19, the most contagious and infectious virus which cannot be prevented from emerging but only from spreading.

“So that’s where disinfection service comes in and it’s now available in Sibu. Hopefully, it can improve the quality of life for Malaysians,” he said.

 

For all sectors

Ngu added that his company provides cleaning and disinfection for every sector, including shop lots, commercial centres, and residential homes.

“We recommend the service once a month, especially for hospitals, clinics, supermarkets, and shopping malls, which are the most frequented. This will help to keep society clean and safe.”

According to him, viruses or bacteria are hard to remove once they enter the body. They can reproduce, so what we can do is to prevent it from spreading.

The Covid-19 virus can remain on surfaces for 24 to 48 hours, and based on a study by the National Institute of Health, if an infected person sneezes and leaves droplets on the surface, the virus will remain there for one to two days.

However, disinfection is strong enough to kill when viruses or bacteria are outside the body.

“The hand sanitiser cleans everything – same as disinfection solution,” Ngu said.

 

Sanitisation

He added that presently the disinfection service is aimed at helping to sanitise areas in society, including schools and hospitals, where there are clusters of activities taking place.

“Students had been quarantined at home – they didn’t go to school for three months because of the lockdown. If restricted movements were to be extended to six months or so, kids would not be able get proper schooling for that period.

Hopefully, disinfection service will help schools to open as usual.

On online classes, Ngu said based on his experience, it was difficult to conduct and could be also boring compared to studying in school.

He recommends schools be disinfected once a month because a lot of students walk around the premises and touch things which may or may not be clean and there is no sure way of knowing as viruses and bacteria are invisible to the naked eye.

“The best solution is to use disinfection service once month. It’s hygienic and cleansing – like washing our hands and taking a bath every day.

“The more we practise personal hygiene, the more we see the quality of life improve. People live longer with a better understanding of the need to stay healthy. And cleaning and disinfection is one way to avoid contracting infections and improve living conditions.”

Ngu also pointed out that it is imperative to enlighten society on the benefits of cleaning and disinfection to foster a sense of security.

He recently provided voluntary disinfection service to his former kindergarten – Tadika Methodist Tieng Ong Tong – to give back to his “mother school”.

He added that for schools – kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools, the company’s charges are minimal.

He said this is because the more we help society, the wealthier we are.

“Doing business is not just about making profits because when we help people, people will help us and the more we help people, the more help we can get. It’s a good cycle,” he said.