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War on scabies

War on scabies

There is a very real reason why we’re always talking about the teeny tiny scabies mite at the Remote Laundries Project. Terrible diseases that have serious impact on the lives and health of people in the entire community start with this pesky mite.

Most people wouldn’t have even heard of the scabies mite but, those who live in remote communities throughout the NT, know them well. They are a parasite easily passed from close skin to skin contact that borrows into the skin to feed and makes the host very itchy. These parasites can hide in clothing and blankets making it really tricky to get rid of them without reliable laundry facilities.

The itching is where all the problems start

Itching causes the skin to break. Breaking the skin means bacteria can get into the body which triggers a reaction. After repeated exposure, this can lead to damage to the heart and kidneys. It’s obviously far more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, the breaking of skin and the presence of horrible bacteria like Streptococcus A are a dangerous but all too common combination in overcrowded housing.

In remote Aboriginal communities the rate of scabies can be really high, like 8 in 10 kids being affected before their first birthday high. It’s a huge problem that health professionals have been battling for decades. Medication is the treatment, but washing is part of the prevention.

Washing is harder than most realise

We’ve been saying for years that washing clothes in remote Aboriginal communities is harder than people realise. Overcrowding, limited access to working washing machines, availability of hot water and adequate detergent are a daily struggle for many people who live in remote communities. Just imagine if you lived in a house with 20 people, how well your washing machine would hold up?

Washing clothes, bedding, and towels in hot water with medical grade detergent kills the scabies mite, and if done often enough will reduce mite populations within any household.

For this reason, we believe our laundries should be throughout the NT. There aren’t going to be solutions to the housing shortage in remote NT any time soon, but we need to be acting now to protect the health of all people living in communities. We believe our laundries are a valuable weapon in the fight.

More laundries mean less scabies

We are growing the project this year. By the end of 2021 there will be at least five new laundries in the NT. This is good! That is five laundries offering free washing and drying to anyone who needs it.

We believe that with enough laundries throughout the NT we can bring down unacceptable incidence of scabies, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease.

If you want any information or to learn more about our amazing project you can contact the team at info@remotelaundries.org.au or ring 08 89222666