Simple Hand Washing Can Save Your Life

Hand hygiene is a life saver. Clean hands save lives. This is the message to Nigerians on this year’s global Hand Hygiene Day on October 15, with the theme “Raise a Hand for Hygiene” The argument for creation of a strong social norm of good hand hygiene becomes more relevant and raising a hand can be a reminder about how many people have access to hygiene facilities in homes, schools, and healthcare facilities. Global Hand Hygiene Day is a campaign to motivate and mobilise people around the world to improve hand hygiene habits. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of hand washing with soap as a key approach to good hygiene and disease prevention.

 It was initiated to reduce childhood mortality rates related respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases by introducing simple behavioral changes, such as hand washing with soap to reduce disease mortality. In recognition of this health need, Uni-Medical Healthcare Limited, a subsidiary of UG Healthcare Corporation, a multinational global healthcare provider and manufacturer of medical gloves and high quality multipurpose medical and healthcare disposables, in collaboration with its partners, are in Nigeria to participate at the Medic West Africa Exhibition that came up from October 14 – 16, 2015 in Lagos.

The exhibition was an opportunity for the hospital and health sectors, hotels, food manufacturing companies and those in a related field to tap from their experience. Chief Executive of Uni-Gloves Medical, Mr. Kevin Onah, said currently, compliance with recommended hand hygiene practices is still very poor. Poor compliance: “Careful hand hygiene in medical field is set to become even more important in the future in the provision of high quality patient care. In addition to this, many health care workers do not wash their hands after “low-risk” patient contacts, probably because they are not aware that their hands may become contaminated while measuring the patient’s blood pressure or pulse, touching intact areas of the patient’s skin or lifting the patient. Such health care workers complain of skin irritation and dryness as a result of constant handwashing.

“In Nigeria, it has been observed that mortality related to hospital acquired infections could be reduced when health care personnel wash and disinfect their hands with antiseptic solution between patient contacts, as well as stringent compliance of health care workers with recommended handwashing practices.” Onah said statutory regulations play a key role in addition to the overall increased awareness of the importance of hygiene among the Nigerian population.

He said hand hygiene prevents cross-infection in hospitals, but compliance with recommended instructions often is poor among healthcare workers. “Easy access to hand hygiene in a timely fashion and the availability of skin-care lotion both appear to be necessary pre-requisites for appropriate hand-hygiene behaviour. In particular, in high-demand situations, hand rub with an alcohol-based solution appears to be the only alternative that allows a decent compliance.” He said the hand-hygiene compliance level does not rely on individual factors alone, and the same can be said for its promotion. “Because of the complexity of the process of change, it is not surprising that solo interventions often fail, and multimodal, multidisciplinary strategies are necessary."

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