Video courtesy WHO.
That our hands are in constant touch with the things we handle is not in doubt. Few of us appreciate the fact that hand hygiene can prevent diseases. In most occasions, we work using our hands. We count money, change baby diapers, shake hands, mop floors, type on our computers and so on.
In the same vein, we use our hands to handle foodstuffs. We peel mangoes, hold sugarcanes, and also in eating such foods as Ugali and chapatti; we use hands. What remains adequately unsaid, however, is the fact that the hands collect a lot of dirt and consequently, bacteria and germs during these interactions with items.
So why should you wash your hands?
When people touch items that have germs, they get onto one’s hands and it is easy to contaminate food and drinks that a person consumes, therefore getting into the body. For example, faeces from people or animals is an important source of germs that include Salmonella typhi, and norovirus. These germs are easy to get when changing baby diapers or even cleaning toilets.
What happens is that, when they contaminate food and you consume it, the germs get into the body and cause diseases such as diarrhoea and also respiratory diseases such as adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease.
Besides, these disease-causing germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose or the mouth, without causing any alarm so by the time one is becoming aware, and he or she has already fallen sick.
Cholera still remains a major threat in Kenya. Preventing this disease is all about hygiene.
As such, we should ensure hand hygiene by washing our hands regularly and after various occasions that include:
- Before handling foodstuffs. Whether raw or cooked and ready to eat food, we should ensure to wash hands to prevent contaminating the food with disease-causing germs.
- After using the toilet and changing diapers. This is to ensure that the germs that could be collected from faecal matter do not cause contamination
- After handling rubbish or trash.
- After handling animals and animal waste.
- Before preparing food; and finally,
- After using a tissue or a handkerchief.
When washing hands, it is recommended that one uses water and soap, preferably warm water.
Washing hands properly requires that you wet your hands and apply soap, and ensure to lather well. Then rub the hands together with both the palms and the back of the hands, not forgetting the wrist and between fingers, and if you have long nails, ensure to wash them clean.
Then, rinse the hand properly using enough running water, and finally dry them using a clean hand towel. Alternatively, you can air dry the hands.
It is also noteworthy that, removing germs through handwashing prevents the transfer of germs from one person to another, a phenomenon that cannot be overlooked for its far-reaching repercussions.