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Hand Hygiene Day: Good hand hygiene halves incidences of infections

As countries marked the World Hand Hygiene Day on Saturday, May 5, 2018, some health experts have said that the habitual practice of good hand hygiene reduces incidences of diseases by a half.

Nkiruka

Hand hygiene: Nkiruka Okafor, 40, a volunteer nurse, washes her hands thoroughly with water before attending to patients at the Zuma Primary Health Centre, Abuja, Nigeria.

They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.

The World Hand Hygiene Day is commemorated annually on May 5.

The theme for the 2018 campaign is: “It’s in Your Hands – Prevent Sepsis in Health Care”.

It is illustrating the important relationship between good infection prevention and control practices, such as washing your hands and preventing sepsis.

Dr Yeside Adesiyun, a Senior Research Officer at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi in Lagos, said: “One thing that is clear from research is that developing the habit of hand washing with soap can reduce incidences of infections almost by a half.

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“Research has also shown us over time that good hygiene, especially hand hygiene, is very much linked to better health outcomes.

“The consequences of poor hygiene are detrimental to the health of the whole family, especially children and so people need to make a personal commitment to good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene by washing  the hands with clean water and soap.’’

Adesiyun, who is also a Nutritionist said: “Wash your hands when you walk into the house, when you want to eat and after eating, as well as after using the rest room.

“Also, before and after cleaning a child and touching contaminated or dirty items, the hands should be washed.

“People should wash their foods after purchasing them from the market place before consuming them; cooking items need to be washed with clean water and stored appropriately, to avoid allowing the growth of micro-organisms on them, ‘’ she said.

“Looking at malnutrition, one of the underlying causes is actually poor hygiene and an unsanitary environment.

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“When there is poor hygiene and sanitation, at home, schools, offices and health facilities, risks of infections and diarrhoea diseases are a lot higher.

“Bad hygiene and sanitation can keep people in a cycle of poor health and malnutrition and for children, it can affect their growth and development and even cause death,’’ she said.

According to Adesiyun, creating good hand hygiene should not be isolated from maintaining a clean environment.

“Keeping our environment clean is very critical; it should be a community affair because we do not live in isolation.

“It is said that `cleanliness is next to godliness’ and since most people are religious, it makes sense to preach cleanliness even in our houses of worship and street associations.

“There should be efforts to ensure that gutters are cleaned, flooded street corners are drained to avoid breeding of vectors and reduce incidences of infections such as cholera, malaria and diarrhea,’’ she said.

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Adesiyun said that it was important for clean water to be available to achieve the desired personal, environmental and public hygiene.

Also speaking, Olurotimi Awojide of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNW), Lagos Chapter, said: “Good hygiene can be looked at from different perspectives starting from personal hygiene; individuals should take proper care of their body.

“This can be achieved through bathing, brushing of teeth, washing of clothing and so on.

“In health facilities, factories and companies, a high standard of hygiene is also required.

“However, the main purpose of this world hand hygiene day is to further remind us of the need to prevent the spread of infections,’’ he said.

“Unclean hands are reservoirs for majority of disease-causing organisms.

“Individuals, especially health workers, are expected to wash their hands before and after attending to each patient.

“This is critical to prevent infections such as sepsis.

“Hands should be washed with liquid soap under clean running water,’’ Awojide said.

By Oluwakemi Oladipo

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