Hand WashingDecember 24, 2023
Hand washing is cleaning hands with water and soap or hand sanitizers. People do hand washing everyday but importance of proper hand washing on health is usually overlooked.
Why hand washing is important
Our hands are exposed various objects soiled with gems. We make food with hands and clean the faeces with hands too. Gems usually enter the body through our hands into eyes, noses, mouth. When gems enter the body, various health problems can occur such as eye infections, skin infections, influenza, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
There are many evidences that hand washing can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea related illness and 30% of respiratory tract infections. These infections are leading causes of mortality and morbidity in many countries especially in developing countries including Myanmar.
Reducing the number of infections by washing hands effectively also prevent the overuse of antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotic can cause gems to resist the effect of antibiotic which is called antibiotic resistance, one of the threatening health problems over the world. Therefore, proper hand washing can also reduce antibiotic resistance.
Proper hand washing can reduce spread of infections and prevent outbreak among people. For example, during epidemic Covid 19 infection, recently occurred severe respiratory illness worldwide, hand washing is the one of the most important first line preventing method.
Hand washing with water alone is not enough to prevent the infections. Hand washing with soap and clean water can effectively prevent infections. In certain circumstances where soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used.
When and how to wash hands
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds before and after certain activities. These include the five critical times during the day where washing hands with soap: after using the toilet (for urination, defecation, menstrual hygiene), after cleaning a child’s bottom (changing diapers), before feeding a child, before eating and before/after preparing food or handling raw meat, fish or poultry. Moreover, after blowing and sneezing into your hands, after touching garbage and before/after treating a cut or wound, proper hand washing is needed.
The following figure shows the correct method of hand washing. Hand washing education and access to soap and clean water in schools and in community are really important for health of the world population.
Author – SOo