What is World Hygiene Day?

May 5 is the day to bring awareness to the importance of good hand hygiene. Its aim is to educate on effective and affordable ways to prevent diseases and save lives. It’s also a day to encourage people to clean their hands at the right times and with the right products.

This year’s theme focuses on ‘quality and safety climate or culture’, which promotes working together to influence the culture or climate of an organization to meet the common goal of safety and quality in health care. We can do this through spreading information and adopting positive behavior regarding cleaning our hands.

Why is handwashing important?

We come across germs throughout our day. These germs spread from surfaces to people when, for example, we touch a surface and then touch our face with unwashed hands.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, hand hygiene has received a lot of attention and became a central part of COVID-19 prevention strategies. It’s not only important during a pandemic though. We need to keep hand hygiene top of mind even when we’re not in a crisis because it’s the best way to protect ourselves and others from being exposed to harmful disease or viruses.

When to wash your hands

Washing our hands may seem like a no-brainer to many but some may get it wrong. You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often and correctly, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s always best to wash our hands when we’ve been in a public place or have been exposed to a surface that has been touched by many people. Door handles, trolleys and dustbins are a breeding ground for germs. But it doesn’t stop there. Washing our hands before preparing food or eating, using the bathroom, changing a baby’s nappy, or using public transport helps to prevent the spread of all germs and viruses.

Teaching kids the importance of hand hygiene

Children come into contact with germs every day. Teaching them the importance of washing their hands properly can help prevent sick days and trips to the doctor. Here are some tips to help teach the little ones good hand hygiene:

  • Get them to pick their favourite song or poem and have them sing it while washing their hands. If the song is too short, have them to sing it twice.
  • Ensure a good handwashing routine becomes a habit and have them wash their hands after using the toilet, after playing and before eating.
  • Look for fun hand soaps to use. These can include liquid soaps that change colour with child-friendly scents like bubblegum.

How to wash your hands

  • Wash your hands under water at a temperature that works for you.
  • Use soap and lather up for about 20 seconds. Make sure to spread the soap on all parts of your hands, wrists, under your fingernails and between your fingers. Don’t forget the back of your hands.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
  • If you’re using a public bathroom, use a paper towel to dry your hands, to turn off the taps and to open the door handle when exiting.
  • You are better off not using a communal cloth towel in public restrooms. Use paper or air dry.