As autumn arrives and bugs and germs start to thrive, NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is backing Global Handwashing Day, which took place over the weekend, to highlight the importance of handwashing with soap as an efficient and economical way to prevent the spread of bugs and infections.
Global Handwashing Day is a day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. This year’s theme is ‘Our Hands, Our Future’, reminding us that handwashing protects our own health, but also allows us to build our own futures, as well as those of our communities, and the world.
Hand washing with soap is a do-it-yourself vaccine that can reduce diarrhoea by almost 50 per cent and respiratory infections by nearly 25 per cent, killing the 10 million viruses and one million bacteria found in a single gram of human faeces. Hand washing creates a barrier that keeps faecal viruses and bacteria at bay, preventing diarrhoea and breathing problems plus skin and eye infections. The beauty of effective hand washing is that it’s really easy to learn.
Norovirus is very common at this time of year and can be spread through unwashed hands. For most people it is no worse than a short bout of diarrhoea and vomiting that should clear up within 24-72 hours but for the more vulnerable, it can have a more significant effect. However, it is easily preventable by regularly washing your hands after going to the toilet or before touching food. In instances where soap and clean, running water isn’t available, using an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands can help prevent spreading germs.
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like washing your hands and covering your cough can often help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.
Helen Hibbs, Chief Officer at NHS Wolverhampton CCG said:
“Washing your hands is something so simple, yet it is a habit that many people forget to do. Hands are one of the biggest spreaders of germs though and washing your hands on a regular basis with soap and warm water can help to prevent the spread of flu, stomach bugs and other winter illnesses. This not only protects yourself, but those around you by removing any infection-causing germs from your hands.
“The power is literally in everyone’s hands because washing our hands with soap is one of the most effective ways of creating healthier communities.”