Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Clean hands can save lives

Washing hands with soap is one of the easiest and most effective ways of protecting ourselves from common diseases. It is said that if we wash our hands properly everyday, we can prevent more than 50 percent of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses. Yet we often tend to take things for granted and forget to wash our hands before and after carrying out critical activities. Handwashing is perhaps one of the first lessons we have learned from our parents but even today, we hardly care to know how to do it in a proper manner. Since we use our hands in almost everything we do in our daily life, it is important to keep them clean so that infectious germs and bacteria do not find their way into our body.

The importance of handwashing has re-surfaced after the recent outbreak of Coronavirus in China that has now become a global epidemic. The World Health Organization has advised that washing hands with alcohol-based hand-rub or water and soap can kill the virus on the hands. If the deadly disease like Coronavirus can be prevented by washing hands with soap, it can definitely keep us safe from germs and bacteria that cause diarrhea and flu. Handwashing sounds too simple but it can save lives if we can make it a habit.

I sometimes feel that if I had known the importance of handwashing around the time when I lost my sight or if I had somebody with me who had adequate knowledge about it, I could have perhaps prevented the infection from spreading further into my eyes. I was only 9 years old when I lost my sight and it all began with itchy eyes. My father was working in charcoal production at the time and I was helping him. I often used to make charcoals myself and collect them in sacks. I never cared to wash my hands before rubbing my eyes. Gradually the infection got worse and my eyeballs started to swell dangerously. At the end, nothing could save my eyes. If I had washed my hands every time before I rubbed my eyes, I could have perhaps prevented the infection.

The culture of handwashing should be integrated into our daily life at home. Our kids should see for themselves and understand how clean hands can save lives. We must teach them how to wash their hands properly to keep themselves healthy. It is said that we should wash our hands with soap before and after eating or touching raw foods like meat and vegetables, after using toilets, after touching pets or other animals, after treating a cut or wound and after blowing nose, sneezing or coughing. Keeping our hands always clean can help us get rid of harmful germs so that we can stay healthy.

In order to increase public awareness on the importance of handwashing, the Comprehensive School Health Section of the Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education had produced a documentary titled ‘Handle Hands with Care’ in 2008. The documentary talks about the importance of washing hands and shows how to do it in a proper manner. The documentary is imbedded below.

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