HomeOpinion & AnalysisHealth Talk: Handwashing is no joke!

Health Talk: Handwashing is no joke!

with Dr Johannes Marisa

October 15 is Global Hand-washing Day and Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in highlighting the importance of washing hands.

There are some people who think that washing hands is not important.

So many contagious diseases are transmitted through hands and about 80% of them could be averted by washing hands properly.

Many viruses and bacteria like Staphyloccocus Warneri, Aureus, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas Fluorescens are found in the hands and these can cause severe infections in the body.

Worms have prospered from one person to another through contaminated hands that spread the eggs and the circle continues unabated if there is no thorough hand-washing.

Covid-19 is one stubborn virus that is transmitted via bodily secretions like saliva, mucus or cough droplets which one can carry in the hands.

Close to five million people have so far succumbed to Covid-19 and the damage could have been reduced if everyone followed correct hand-washing procedures.

Why hand-washing?

Germs accumulate on your hands as you touch surfaces and objects throughout the day.

You can thus transmit these germs to others or infect yourself by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Although keeping your hands germ-free is impossible, hand-washing is the first line of defence against the spread of various illnesses, ranging from the common cold to severe infections like Meningitis, Bronchiolitis, Hepatitis A, Diarrhoea and many others.

Hand-washing is very important as it removes germs from the hands thus preventing infectious diseases.

People frequently touch their eyes, noses, mouths without realising that germs get into the body with ease.

Approximately 1 500 bacteria are found per one square centimetre.

There are also many other items that are removed when one does hand-washing and these include simple dirt, dust, grease and other stuck substances to the hands.

Toxic substances like battery acid can be very dangerous to both the skin and clothes as the corrosive aspect can give fulminant effects. Clothes can be torn while the tongue can get affected if one accidentally takes it through the mouth.

People should thus appreciate that hand-washing should be a common practice and one of the things is the provision of running water at gatherings like funerals or weddings.

There are many events where one has to wash their hands. Please wash your hands with the following activities lest you can spread infection:

  • After going to the bathroom.
  • Before you eat.
  • Before and after preparing food.
  • After handling money.
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • After touching animals.
  • After coming into contact with sick people.
  • Before and after a gathering where there are many people that you shake hands with.
  • After smoking.
  • When you get home, or when you arrive at other people’s homes or other venues.
  • After working in the garden.

What are the steps of hand-washing?

Ideally, hand-washing should be done with soap. While many people have resorted to the use of hand sanitisers, it should be known that hand-washing with soapy water is the best way to clean your hands. Sanitisers can leave some pathogens on surfaces as they can resist complete removal or elimination. Let us like to wash our hands. The following are some of the critical steps of hand-washing:

  • Wet hands with clean running water. Be careful to use running water and not stagnant water. There are some people who make use of water in one dish where everyone dips their hands in the same dish. This is dangerous.
  • Apply soap onto the hands.
  • Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds under running water.
  • Dry your hands using clean towel, dryer or air.
  • Avoid drying your hands using your own clothes as you can carry germs from your clothes if you had already contaminated them.

Wherever you are, it should be a taboo to touch any food or any other hand and then there is no hand-washing. Hand-washing should be a priority on gatherings and your personal hygiene will determine your future health!

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