How can a woman who has not a great deal of time to spare help in the crusade against consumption ?
In the first place, she can insist upon fresh air and the open-air life in her own home. We are wiser than were the women a generation ago in the bringing up of children, perhaps, but in too many homes the hothouse atmosphere and lack of cold fresh air directly encourage any tendency to consumption. We have too many curtains and carpets and hangings, too many superfluous pictures and ornaments, which act as dust-traps and germ collectors, even in the best kept homes. The finest layer of dust offers a haven to thousands of microbes, and the housewife who furnishes her bedrooms with washable floors and washable walls is wise in her generation.
Hygiene Rules for the Home
Here ate a few rules which the housewife must bear in mind :
See that every member of the household sleeps with open windows all the year round.
Air the beds thoroughly in the morning before re-making them.
Destroy dust by collecting and burning it.
Use damp cloths for dusting, in order that the dust is not stirred into the air to re-settle upon furniture.
Burn all household refuse.
Wage war against flies.
It is only within the last few years that the common housefly has been properly recognised as a carrier of disease. Flies are the chief agents in carrying the poison of typhoid fever, consumption, and the summer diarrhoea of infancy. Their breeding and feeding places are refuse heaps. If they are allowed to find their way into larder or pantry they contaminate the food by depositing germs of disease in milk, butter, meat, etc.
It is not difficult to get rid of flies if systematic warfare is waged against them. They should be caught as much as possible, and killed. The ordinary flypapers can be used, or shallow dishes containing two teaspoonfuls of formaldehyde lotion to a pint of water, sweetened with sugar. If all refuse, dust, and dirt in the household are destroyed the feeding materials of flies are at once reduced, and they are less likely to be attracted to the house. No child should be allowed to drink milk into which even one fly has found its way. No food should be eaten once it has been contaminated by flies.
Domestic hygiene, again, is of very great importance. This includes the care of sinks, attention to the drainage, and thorough cleansing of floors and walls. The careful housewife sprinkles wet tea-leaves for sweeping the floor because they gather the dust, and then can be burned, thus destroying all manner of disease germs efficiently. Kitchens, larders, etc., should be floored with tiles, as they can be thoroughly scrubbed and kept clean. Washable walls are preferable to any other, and all walls should be kept as free as possible from brackets, pictures, and other ornaments, in order that they may be dusted down thoroughly once or twice a week.
The hygienic housewife keeps an eye upon the eaves and spoutings, sees that scrapers are provided by all the doors, and attends to the disposal of refuse. The best plan is to make a rule that household refuse is always burnt, and that what cannot be disposed of in this way is kept in a covered zinc receptacle to be removed regularly from the premises. Frequent flushing of drains is an important matter, especially in hot weather. A household disinfectant may be used, but boiling water is excellent for this purpose.
The second duty of the housewife is to supply clean, nourishing, well-cooked food. This is not a question of the amount of money spent, because people may live in a luxurious fashion, and yet not get the right kind of food or the right quantity. We are beginning to grasp the fact . that there is danger that the better-off classes of the community may over-feed, and take too much of the wrong sort of food. Most of us eat too much butcher's meat, and too little of such food as eggs, cheese, fruit, and oatmeal.
The Women's National Health Association, Ireland, is doing a splendid work. Perhaps the most important section of Lady Aberdeen's work is concerned with the prevention of tuberculosis in the home. In reply to my request for information on her work she says, in the course of her letter, "Consumption being in earnest a disease bred in the home it can only be stamped out by the women of the country realising that the responsibility is theirs to ensure healthy homes, fresh air, good food, cleanliness, and habits of temperance and self-control."
This sentence might form a text for a sermon on the power of the housewife. Women are becoming alive to the importance of health and hygiene, and are studying seriously diet and the preparation of food. The "Daily Mail's". Standard Bread Crusade did good service in arousing us to demand pure food.
The relative nourishing values of the two rices is as follows :
One pound of white or polished rice contains 1 ounce 66 grains of protein and 32 grains of mineral matter ; and the same weight of unpolished rice contains 1 ounce 122 grains of protein and 80 grains of mineral matter.
The public demand for extreme whiteness in their bread and their grains has brought about adulteration of food in the sense that the flour has to be bleached by chemicals or by ozone, whilst in many cases the most nourishing part of the wheat is rejected because it would impart a colour and take away from the whiteness of the finished material. A very important part of the teaching of the Women's Health Association of Ireland is concerned with the food question. Caravan tours are undertaken by lecturers who give practical talks to the housewives on diet, fresh air, cleanliness, and hygiene in the home. A caravan health lecturer will give a little lecture on milk, for example.
The most important item of our food supply concerned with consumption is certainly the milk. The average person drinks about 42 gallons of milk in a year, and, in towns at any rate, one-fifth of the milk we drink is tubercular. One tumblerful in every five contains the dread tubercle bacillus. Indeed, it has been stated on good authority that about 10 per cent of the churns sent into towns contain the living infection of tuberculosis. A large number of the cases of tuberculosis occurring in children is due to tubercular milk. In a special article on the prevention of consumption in childhood we shall deal with the importance of Pasteurising milk in the home.
In addition to hygiene in the home, how can the women of the country help forward the crusade against tuberculosis in other ways ? In every village and every town there is a crying need for a campaign against consumption. There are few women who are not in touch with poor people who need tactful teaching in health and hygiene. The great need is to get people to understand that illness is preventable.
By personal influence, tact, and enthusiasm women could revolutionise the methods of the poor housewives in their own district. As a rule, these women are only too glad to learn simple facts about health and hygiene if they are tact-fully presented. Every housewife who can be prevailed upon to keep the windows open, to burn all dust and dirt, to abolish refuse heaps, kill flies, and attend to sanitation is a gain to the crusade.
Most of the cottage women's views on the food question require drastic alteration. They very soon learn that the bread and tea diet they give their families is just as expensive, and not half so nourishing as porridge and milk, good vegetable soup, such as lentil, bean, and pea soups, and well-cooked stews. A simple cookery class for the housewives of the place is a practical measure of value in the prevention of consumption. Then, housewives of all classes have to learn that neglected colds are dangerous in that they may be the beginning of consumption, and that it is of vital importance to keep the general health of the whole family up to a certain standard.
Wherever there is a consumptive case in the house, if it cannot be removed to a sanatorium the relatives must be taught certain facts about infection. The consumptive need not be a danger to the family if he lives under hygienic conditions. Infection can be prevented if the consumptive attends to the points mentioned in the article on Nursing Consumptive Cases.
New regulations make it the duty of every doctor, after January 1, 1912, to notify every case of pulmonary tuberculosis to the Medical Officer of Health for the district, who will keep the register. Such records will be considered as strictly confidential.