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Global Handwashing Day: Maintain the 20 second rule, live a disease-free life

Shubham Sharma

Tracking back and sustaining the global pandemic coronavirus, the 15th day of October marks another significant event. The occasion is Global Handwashing Day, a day emphasising on hand hygiene.
This year, the theme of the event is Hand Hygiene for all. The theme depicts a global call for maintaining hand hygiene.

The significance of personal hygiene

The day was first observed in 2008, observing the event for the very first time.120 million students from 70 countries across the world which is still a world record. Since then, the day has proceeded to pace up its significance. However, the major objectives of the event are-

  • Foster and support the general culture of handwashing with soap in all societies.
  • Shine a spotlight on handwashing conditions in every country.
  • Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.

Initiated with a greater aim, the initial studies revealed were surprising.

  • According to a report by Washington University, about 50 million persons in 46 countries including India lack handwashing access.
  • 25% of the world's population also lacks effective handwashing access.
  • More than 7 lakh deaths occur due to inadequate handwashing access.

Years went: Where are we lacking?

The efforts done by WHO and UNICEF in this regard are, however, commendable. But, the problem persists due to the lack of awareness. Many social groups find it against their cultural beliefs to sanitize or wash their hands. Governments and administrations are busy in making toilets. But for the same toilet, they never think of installing a washbasin with adequate soap and water supply for handwashing. Owing to this, people still hesitate to use public toilets.
It is imperative to know that with frequent handwashing, the younger children will remain healthy and fair use of these future assets can be made. About 29-57% of cases of school children with illness are observed with gastrointestinal pain. These can be reduced to a greater extent.
About 1 in 3 diarrhoea cases are a result of unjust personal hygiene. Respiratory illness in the overall population can also be reduced by 16-21%.

Also Read-Gandhi: The multi dimensional personality

In the wake of pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has taught a global lesson to the careless humans. Compared to 35.8% before the virus, today 91% of the Indians wash their hands with soap before having a meal. Out of these, 80% of people are washing their hands with soap for more than 20 seconds and rest are doing this integral activity for more than 20 seconds. It is to be noted that the WHO has recommended washing hands with soap for 20 seconds to terminate the active germs and virus prevailing on the hand. If soap isn't available, use a hand sanitizer which must contain 60% alcohol. Alcohol solution eliminates majority of the viruses and bacteria on a surface.

Thus, not only during this pandemic, but make sure you wash your hands after and before following activities:

  • Returning from a public outing (grocery store, work, school, concert, sporting activity, hospital, nursing home, etc.
  •  Shaking hands.
  • Before, during, and after preparing food, especially raw food.
  • Before and after eating food.
  • Caring for someone at home who is sick.
  •  Treating a cut or wound.
  • Changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
  • Handling pet food or pet treats.
  • Touching garbage.
  • After putting on your shoes.
  • After using public computers, touching public tables and countertops, cash and coins, other people’s phones, etc.

The simple rule for washing hands is:

  • Wet: Put both your hands under clean, running water.
  • Lather: Apply a generous amount of soap to the inside and back of your hands as well as your fingertips. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and don’t forget to wash under fingernails. Your fingertips are especially important as people often put their fingers on their face, nose, and eyes. This is how the virus spreads.
  • Scrub: Rub both hands together and move your fingertips around both hands.
  • Rinse: Return both hands to the running water and gently wash away the soap.
  • Dry: Completely dry the water from your hands. Using a clean towel for drying purpose. Air dryers, commonly found in public bathrooms, are also effective.

Thus, we must also understand the importance of personal hygiene. Let not any virus or infectious disease rule over our working hands. Don't let the handwashing confined to your toilet or after a meal. Most importantly, use a soap or a alcohol based sanitizer. Let the human hands moving.

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