New Delhi: May 5 is marked annually as World Hand Hygiene Day by World Health Organization (WHO). WHO started this global campaign called “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands” back in 2009, which later became an annual celebration as World Hand Hygiene Day. Every year, the day is marked with some unique theme, this year, Hand Hygiene Day is being marked with the theme – Accelerate Action Together, with the motive to spread awareness on the need to come together and accelerate action to prevent infections and antimicrobial resistance in health care and build a culture of safety and quality in which hand hygiene improvement is given high priority.
The Importance Of Hand Hygiene
Hand hygiene saves millions of lives every year when performed at the right moments, states World Health Organization. It also adds that good hand hygiene is relatively cheap, and a cornerstone of safe and effective health care and states that thoroughly cleaning hands with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub helps prevent a range of diseases, including the biggest killers of under-fives globally: Pneumonia and Diarrhoea.
WHO has tagged it as a smart investment that offers exceptional return for each dollar invested.
5 Reasons Why Hand Hygiene Is Important:
1. As per Centre For Disease Control and Prevention, washing hands with soap and water could reduce deaths from Diarrhoeal disease by up to 50 per cent
2. Centre For Disease Control and Prevention also adds that if everyone routinely washed their hands, 1 million deaths a year could be prevented
3. Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16–21%, according to Centre For Disease Control and Prevention
4. As per, UNICEF, three billion people globally do not have a handwashing facility with water and soap at home
5. Almost half of the schools world over lack a handwashing facility with water and soap, affecting some 818 million school-age children, states UNICEF
When it comes to India, almost all households (as high as 97% have washbasins), but only richer and more educated households in urban areas use soap to wash hands and only 2 out of 10 poor households use soap compared to 9 out of 10 rich households, according to the last statistics shared in National Family and Health Survey 4 (2015-16).
World Health Organization states that if current rates of progress continue, by 2030 the world will have reached only 78 per cent coverage of basic hygiene services, leaving 1.9 billion people without the facilities to wash their hands at home.
Ways For Good Hand Hygiene
WHO states that washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and Diarrhoeal infections. It adds that people should wash their hands if they are visibly dirty, and if they don’t have adequate resource like water and soap at the moment then they should make use of hand sanitisers.
WHO also adds that germs can spread from person to person or from surfaces to people when you:
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touch surfaces or objects that have germs on them
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
Key Times to Wash Hands
WHO recommends one should wash hands often, especially during these key times when one is likely to get infected and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or Diarrhoea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that 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 the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.