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READING EXERCISE - Test Your Understanding, #2: Answers - 2004-03-27

[Broadcast: January 7, 2004]

This is Phoebe Zimmermann with the VOA Special English Health Report.

Medical experts say the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease is for people to wash their hands with soap and water.

The World Bank, the United Nations, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine carried out a study to urge hand- washing around the world. They say that programs to increase hand- washing with soap could be among the most effective ways to reduce infectious disease. They say that one-million lives could be saved each year if people washed their hands with soap often.

Doctors say many diseases can be prevented from spreading by hand-washing. These include pinworms, influenza, the common cold, hepatitis A, meningitis and infectious diarrhea.

Hand-washing destroys germs from other people, animals or objects a person has touched. When people get bacteria on their hands, they can infect themselves by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Then these people can infect other people.

The experts say the easiest way to catch a cold is to touch your nose or eyes after someone nearby has sneezed or coughed. Another way to become sick is to eat food prepared by someone whose hands were not clean.

The experts say that hand-washing is especially important before and after preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet. People should wash their hands after handling animals or animal waste, and after cleaning a baby. The experts say it is also a good idea to wash your hands after handling money and after sneezing or coughing. And it is important to wash your hands often when someone in your home is sick.

The experts say the most effective way to wash your hands is to rub them together after using soap and warm water. They say you do not have to use special anti-bacterial soap. Be sure to rub all areas of the hands for about ten to fifteen seconds. The soap and the rubbing action remove germs. Rinse the hands with water and dry them.

Experts say that people using public bathrooms should dry their hands with a paper towel and use the towel to turn off the water. They also advise using the paper towel to open the bathroom door before throwing the towel away.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Phoebe Zimmermann.

Comprehension Questions:

1. What is the most effective way to stop the spread of disease?

2. How many lives could be saved each year if people washed their hands more often?

3. Name three diseases that can be prevented by hand washing.

4. Why does hand washing prevent sickness?

5. Describe the most effective way to wash the hands.


1. Washing the hands with soap and water.

2. One-million.

3. Pin worms, influenza and the common cold.

4. It kills germs that can infect people when they touch their nose or mouth, as well as spread to things they touch and make others sick.

5. Rub the hands together using soap and warm water for ten to fifteen seconds.