Initial branches around South Africa celebrate Global Handwashing Day

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In order to create awareness about the importance of hand washing and to prevent the spread of harmful illnesses via touch, South African Initial colleagues swabbed hands to break the world record for hand swabbing on Global Handwashing Day.

global handwashing day, hand washing, Initial, hand hygiene, washing hands

3 year old Rudy van As has his hands swabbed on Global Handwashing Day.

Research shows that children who have been made aware of the importance of good hand hygiene and who have practiced the habit from an early age had half the diarrheal rates than those who had no exposure to handwashing practices.

Wednesday the 15th October was Global Handwashing Day. The awareness campaign was instituted by the World Health Organisation to curtail the spread of common germs and viral infections in 70 developing countries, including South Africa. “If one considers that eight out of ten respiratory and stomach infections are caused through touch, the importance of proper handwashing becomes clear,” says Nathalie Leblond of the hygiene services business, Initial. “Washing your hands with soap and water is the world’s cheapest, yet most effective do-it-yourself vaccine against common illnesses such as diarrhoea.”

Research shows that children who have been made aware of the importance of good hand hygiene and who have practiced the habit from an early age had half the diarrheal rates than those who had no exposure to handwashing practices.

Whilst Global Handwashing Day happens only once a year, Initial operates an ongoing CSI initiative called COHEP (Community Orientated Health Education Programme) which delivers education sessions for children in under-privileged communities on the importance of hand washing with soap. COHEP volunteers all over the country visited local schools, townships and NGO’s to deliver the handwashing message on Global Handwashing Day.

In Johannesburg, Initial colleagues worked directly with a youth based NPO; Young Legacy to bring the hand hygiene message to over 200 children ranging in ages from 6-12. The children were taught basic hand hygiene skills and the importance of hand washing before and after eating and after using the toilet. In Durban, Pietermaritzburg, George and Bloemfontein Initial teams visited local preschools to teach children about the importance of hand washing.

The Cape Town team went a step further and ran a pop-up hand hygiene testing centre in St George’s mall. The aim was to break the record set by the UK for the most number of hands swabbed in an hour. “We wanted to draw attention to what’s really happening on people’s hands,” says Nathalie Leblond. “Clean hands save lives. At the same time we wanted to beat the record (set by Initial in the UK in September) for performing the most of these swab tests in an hour!” Beating that record is exactly what the Cape Town team did. The record was broken with an incredible 168 tests done in one hour. Official Guinness confirmation is still pending.

The Cape Town team also found that of all the hands tested, 92% of the people swabbed fell within normal levels of ATP. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mould cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any one of these sources.

The team distributed flyers depicting correct hand washing techniques, as well as bottles of hand sanitiser for those occasions when soap and water are not accessible.

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 Initial's 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.

Enquiries can be directed to:
Nathalie Leblond
nathalie.leblond(at)rentokil-initial(dot)com
T: +27 (0)21 670 4704

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Nicole Maritz
Rentokil Initial
+27 10 248 1470 Ext: 1470
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Nathalie Leblond
Rentokil Initial
+27 (0)21 670 4700 4704
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