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Have you washed your hands lately?

Last Wednesday October 15 was declared by the United Nations as the first Global Handwashing Day. UNICEF is especially campaigning on behalf of the world’s children. Washing hands with soap is an easy and effective way to prevent diseases ranging from diarrhea to pneumonia. These 2 diseases, according the international organization are responsible for the death of 3.5 million children each year. In countries where there is lack of clean water, handwashing is not something you can take for granted.

To mark the day, 76 countries all over the world took part, with events organized mainly in schools. The Global Handwashing Day is part of the UN’s International Year (2008) of Sanitation.

But if you think that your hands are clean and that you shouldn’t bother about the issue of handwashing and sanitation, think again. The Dirty Hands Study of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine took hand swab samples from British commuters and the results were quite shocking:

Many people have fecal bugs on their hands. Contamination rate were as high 44% in Newcastle. More contamination was observed in the north (Newcastle, Liverpool) of the UK than in the south (London, Cardiff).

The researchers say that the presence of fecal bacteria indicated that the hands were not properly washed. There is a great potential to spread diseases this way.

It is our family policy that the first thing to do upon getting home is handwashing. No matter how you try to keep your hands clean, you always touch things out there, be it on the bus, on the train, in school, at the office or the supermarket. The bugs are out there. Keep them out of your home.

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