Hand Hygiene for All
Three words echoed umpteen times this year are “Wash your Hands”. In the fight against the COVID19, one thing that we cannot forget is the importance of handwashing. A simpler method to prevent the spread of any virus and ensures better health outcomes overall.
Every human being is the author of his own health or diseaseSwami Sivananda
The importance of habits and hygiene has been emphasised by many. Go to rural areas, you would find the first thing they do when they enter their houses, is wash hands and feet and change the attire and then only do anything else at home. All our education and knowledge should take us to lead a healthy life. Instead, it only pushed us away from acceptable traditional practices – time to get back to them and imbibe them into our routines.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness” also equates the state of physical cleanliness with spiritual purity or good health. Hygiene is the mantra for the disease-free world. But do hygiene and habits have any connection? The answer is yes. Not many may be aware that “diarrhoea” is the primary cause of death amongst children under the age of five. It accounts for more deaths than that caused by AIDS, malaria, and measles put together. Respiratory infections also account for at least 2 million deaths a year where handwashing has a pivotal role in lowering respiratory infections. Hygiene is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. The goal is to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
So how simple handwashing with soap could save lives and protects your health? The evidence shows that better handwashing practices could reduce the rate of acute respiratory infections (including pneumonia) by more than 20% and diarrheal diseases by nearly 50%. Hygiene is as essential as water and sanitation in preventing diseases. Proper hand hygiene can lead to a 40% reduction in healthcare-associated infections.
How frequently or how many times one should wash their hands? A study conducted revealed that people touch their faces on an average 23 times an hour. 44% of those touches were to the mouth, nose and eyes which are known to be gateways to infection. In addition to this, how many times the average user-touches the phone in a day! WHO advises washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap. 3 billion people still lack necessary handwashing facilities with soap and water at home.
The first Global Handwashing Day was observed in 2008 an initiative of Global Handwashing Partnership. UNICEF joined the campaign. It is a day that is designed to foster and support a global and local culture of handwashing with soap, showing the importance of handwashing across the world. In 2008 when Global Handwashing Day was the first time observed, over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since then, Global Handwashing Day celebrated across the globe and continued to grow.
The fight against COVID pandemic continues and with determination and adopting simple precautionary steps like washing hands and not touching the nose goes a long way in stopping the spread of COVID.
Recall the nursery rhyme:
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Wash with soap and water
Rub and scrub, rub and scrub
For 20 seconds or more,
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Hurray!! No filthy germs anymore
time to keep reciting…