Initial promotes Healthy Hand Hygiene Habits as a means of Preventing Illnesses such as Diarrhoea

A recent conference in London discussed the serious health implications of poor hand hygiene, particularly in developing countries. Initial offers some expert advice on hand washing as a means to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

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Faeces is the main source of diarrhoeal pathogens, and poor hand hygiene practices are directly linked to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. Washing hands with soap acts as a ‘vaccine’ against a wide range of diseases.

Cape Town, South Africa (PRWEB UK) 29 April 2014

More than 60 delegates from cleaning and hygiene companies, hospital trusts, local authorities and retail giants recently attended a conference in London, hosted by the Royal Society for Public Health. The conference theme was: 'The science and behaviour behind hand washing at home, work and the move' and speakers included public health consultants, behaviour change experts and lecturers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (“Conference looks at hand hygiene from new angles”, published 16th April 2014).

According to one of the expert speakers at the conference - independent health and safety consultant Dr Lisa Ackerley, "Diarrhoea causes four per cent of deaths worldwide and kills 2.2 million people globally, most of them aged under five years. Respiratory illnesses such as flu affect between three and five million of us worldwide every year, resulting in between a quarter and a half a million deaths".

It is therefore vital to encourage good hand hygiene practices to limit the risk of cross contamination, especially around those that are more vulnerable to infection, such as children under the age of 5, and the sick and elderly. However, sixty percent of all South Africans do not wash their hands with soap and water.This was the alarming statistic released by Life Health Care South Africa on the 15th October 2012, just prior Global Hand Washing Day, held annually in October (as published in Life Health Care’s Hand Washing Fact Sheet).

Soap acts as a ‘vaccine’ against a wide range of diseases and therefore neglecting to wash your hands – especially after having gone to the toilet – is tempting fate. A single gram of human faeces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria. Faeces is the main source of diarrhoeal pathogens, and poor hand hygiene practices are directly linked to outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid, cholera and diarrhea.

Dr Valerie Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the conference that hand washing with soap was the most effective way of reducing the risks of diseases spread via the faecal-oral route in developing countries. "Hand washing with soap could save 650,000 lives a year globally. It could help prevent SARS, AIDS, cholera, pandemic flu and malnutrition."

This is because contaminated hands can transfer germs to up to seven separate surfaces and germs can live on a surface for up to 48 hours. The simple act of washing hands regularly and especially after visiting the toilet can reduce infectious diseases by a meaningful percentage, as 80 percent of these diseases are spread through touch.

How you wash your hands is also important, says Initial. Hands should be washed vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds – about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice – taking care to wash well between the fingers and also on the tops of the hands, and then dried thoroughly, as wet hands encourage bacterial growth. Initial offers a range of hand washing and hand drying solutions for your business, and will also conduct free basic hygiene talks to educate colleagues on the importance of hand hygiene in both the workplace and at home.

For a more information Initial’s hand hygiene services, or to arrange for a free hygiene services survey of your business, contact Rentokil Initial on 0800 77 77 88 or visit their website.

About Rentokil-Initial: The Rentokil Initial group specialise in pest control, hygiene services and interior landscaping for businesses across the globe. Using leading-edge, environmentally-friendly technology, their experts deliver a wide range of tailored services to businesses of all kinds. Rentokil Initial South Africa has operations in all major business centres across the country.

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