Study of Food, Water and Waste a Management Habits in Restaurants and Communities (Completed 2008)

This was another study conducted by the PHD Group for the National Health Education, Information and Communication Centre (NHEICC), MoHP in 2008.

The objective of the study was to assess the water and food handling and cooking including waste management habit of middle and low level hotel and marginalized community people.

This was an exploratory/purposive study. Even for this both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed. Literature review was conducted. This way the findings have been triangulated using findings from the literature review, qualitative and quantitative results.

Study participants/respondents were chosen from Kathmandu valley, Chitwan and Dhading.  From marginalized communities 61 individuals were selected representing different caste/ethnic groups. From business entities 62 individuals were chosen for interview. Therefore for individual interviews 123 individuals were contacted.

Study of eating places or small and medium size hotels/restaurants and cooking habits of community members reveal that food preparation needs to be improved. Although most respondents of hotels said that there are health hazards of taking hotel food.  Foods and water served in hotels are not of standards and they need a lot of health education and communication programmes to increase knowledge of the manager, worker and clients of hotels.

Eating in small and medium size hotels/restaurants is hazardous.  Mostly mentioned health hazards of eating in hotels were diarrhoea, stomach pain, jaundice, typhoid, cold and cough, throat ache, vomiting and intestinal worms.

Also cooking food using fire wood, cow dung rice chaff (bhus) by community members is hazardous for cookers. The most important health hazard was effect on eyes, followed by ARI, cough and Common cold, fever, headache, asthma, lungs problem, chest pain, dizzy, blood pressure and burning of hands burnt.

Marginalized communities said that food preparation and cooking must be given special attention. Most small and medium size hotels/restaurants owners and or consumers are serious about preventing health hazards. Similarly the community members think that the heads of households should be serious about cooking habits and food preparation. Many people do not check the quality of food served in hotels and very few check the quality of water. Community people were found cooking food for longer time than required. Only a few of them know the right time of cooking various types of food. Although most families use refined salt but the timing of putting salt in food was found too early which causes loss of micro nutrient. Most families do not throw rice water (mad) when cooking rice; only a few have this habit.

Waste management is not good in homes and hotels. Some families throw household wastes anywhere although some said they put in plastic bags for collection by municipality cleaners. Observation of small and medium size hotels/restaurants shows that many of them do not have clean tables and chairs. Toilet facility is not good either. Many small and medium size hotels/restaurants do not have mosquito nettings to prevent mosquitoes and other insects entering and making food and environment unhygienic and unhealthy.

The NHEICC Public Health Radio Programme was reported to have been heard by about 66 percent of all respondents taking part in the study. The extensively available local communication/ information channel is radio/FM. The second medium is TV even in marginalized communities.