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WASH Programme

#SwasthBharat: Hand Hygiene – Why, How & When. A Quick Guide

Global Handwashing Day 2021: Hands are one of the most common pathways through which the virus spreads from one person to the next

हिन्दी में पढ़े
#SwasthBharat: Hand Hygiene - Why, How & When. A Quick Guide
  • This Global Handwashing Day, follow 11 steps of handwashing with soap
  • WHO recommends handwashing with soap and water for 40-60 seconds
  • If using hand sanitiser, WHO recommends rubbing hands for 20-30 seconds

New Delhi: UNICEF states that globally upto 50 per cent cases of malnutrition are caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hand hygiene. It further adds that the simple act of handwashing after going to the toilet or before eating can reduce the risk of children getting diarrhoea by more than 40%. In COVID-19 times, UNICEF says that handwashing is likely to reduce the chances of COVID-19 infection by 36%.

Also Read: Global Handwashing Day 2021: Things To Know

Health experts and World Health Organisation (WHO) say that hands are one of the most common ways through which disease spreading germs spread from one person to the next. WHO highlights that thousands of people die every day around the world due to poor hand hygiene therefore the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent infections is handwashing.

The global pandemic also taught us that handwashing is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most important ways to prevent the spread of a virus. On Global Handwashing Day 2021, we bring to you a quick guide on how to wash your hands the right way:

Also Read: 77 Per Cent People Changed Their Handwashing Habits Due To COVID-19, Finds A Study By WaterAid India

Why Handwashing Is Crucial?

World Health Organization says that inadequate availability of water, sanitation, and hygiene results in 8,27,000 deaths in low- and middle-income countries each year.

According to Wateraid an international non-governmental organisation, focused on water, sanitation and hygiene, only 1 in 5 (19%) people globally wash their hands with soap after defecating. It further states that 443 million school days are lost every year because of water-related illnesses and lack of access to sanitation and poor hygiene contributeS to approximately 88% of childhood deaths caused by diarrhoeal diseases.

Also Read: From WASH To COVID-19 And Menstrual Hygiene, Bhopal’s Alomati Ray Is A True Warrior Of Change

So health experts say proper hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses — from common cold to more serious infections, such as meningitis.

Dr. Sonar Narula, Consultant Microbiologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre says, “Though, over the years, hand washing with soap and water, and other forms of hand hygiene has been gaining recognition as a cost-effective, essential tool for achieving good health and infection prevention, sadly, the hand hygiene practices are not widely adopted. There are many studies that have proved that hand hygiene helps in reducing hospital-acquired infections and is also essential for one’s good health. In spite of its importance, the compliance to hand hygiene overall remains between 50 to 60 per cent.”

Watch: How Has COVID-19 Affected Handwashing Practices In India?

How Should You Wash Your Hands?

According to the hand hygiene guide by WHO, one should clean hands with sanitiser in the following way:

  • Step 1: Apply enough sanitiser, covering all surfaces on the hand
  • Step 2: Then rub your hands palm to palm
  • Step 3: Followed by taking your right palm over left with interlaced fingers and vice versa
  • Step 4: Then palm to palm with fingers interlaced
  • Step 5: Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
  • Step 6: Rotational rubbing of left and right thumbs
  • Step 7: Rotational rubbing on each palm
  • Step 8: Dry your hands

If hands are visibly dirty, WHO recommends washing of hands with soap and water in its 11 step guide:

  • Step 1: Wet hands with water
  • Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces
  • Step 3: Rub hands palm to palm
  • Step 4: Right palm over the left hand, interlaced fingers and vice a versa
  • Step 5: Palms to palms, fingers interlaced
  • Step 6: Back of fingers
  • Step 7: Rotational rubbing of left and right thumbs
  • Step 8: Rotational rubbing on each palm
  • Step 9: Rinse with water
  • Step 10: Dry thoroughly with a clean towel
  • Step 11: Use the towel to turn off the tap

Dr Shruti Tandan-Pardasani, Consultant Critical Care, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre feels that hand hygiene should be taught once a child starts to feed himself/herself. She adds,

Most childhood diseases ranging from respiratory to gastrointestinal illnesses are totally preventable by a thorough hand wash. It is the cheapest and easiest vaccination that we can give ourselves so why not start inculcating early in life. Use of liquid soap and water is preferable over alcohol based sanitisation which may often be hurried and hence incomplete and ineffective. Hand washing lessons should be given by parents to their children since the start and it should be the part of all school curriculums.

Which Is Better: Washing Your Hands Or Using Hand Sanitizer?

According to the UNICEF and WHO, in general, both handwashing with soap and water and hand sanitizer, when practised correctly, are highly effective in killing most of the germs and pathogens. WHO recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 40-60 seconds whereas rubbing hands with sanitiser for at least 20-30 seconds.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

UNICEF and WHO say in the context of COVID-19 prevention, one should make sure to wash your hands at the following times:

  •  After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After visiting a public space, including public transportation, markets and places of worship
  • After touching surfaces outside of the home like door knobs, doors, money
  • Before, during and after caring for a sick person
  • Before and after eating

Whereas, in general, one should always wash your hands:

  • After using the toilet
  • Before and after eating
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching animals and pets
  • After changing babies’ diapers or helping children use the toilet
  • When your hands are visibly dirty

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


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