I Shall Wash

What do we worry about these fomites? Germs. Germs are around us. And while we eat for nourishment, so must we be taking care to keep ourselves away from sickness.

"The hand-washing with soap habit is the most cost-effective health antigen," asserts Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

Two biggest killers of children in developing world today are diarrheal diseases and urinary tract infections. These sicknesses can come from flies, fluids and surfaces, but more than anything they come from our fingers - our own hands. These hands touch everything. And everything in it carries the threatening germs.

Take a person with a cold: 40 to 90 percent of the adults with a cold have the virus on their hands, and every 60 seconds a working adult touches as many as 30 objects. Cold and enteric viruses can survive up to 72 hours on surfaces. "We can see that fomites can be a big contributor in transmitting germs," Dr. Gerba says.

From my interview with the germ specialist/doctor, he says that eighty percent of homes investigated by him had viruses on phone receivers, refrigerators, microwaves, faucets, knobs, sponges and computers, among others. Outside homes lurk germs in parks, cars, day care centers - everywhere. An ATP Luminometer detects instantly the presence of germs and has tested several areas and things (The Daily Tribune Newspaper).

A collaboration

"For many years, we at the Red Cross have been at the forefront of disaster management in the Philippines and we've seen how epidemics can get started from reasons as simple as unsanitary habits," said Gordon. "That is why we are also working in partnership with Safeguard to promote better hygiene, especially proper hand washing, to reduce the incidence of disease both in disaster situations and everyday life."

The importance of cleanliness among families is very important. Even way back, kids were convinced that they have to use germ-combating soap. "I thought microscopic bugs to be scary, and so I use soap all the time," said a five-year-old kid.

Added Cora de Leon from the Red Cross: "We are raising our voice to let people know good health is in the hands of the people."

Surveys say that if developing countries are to achieve reductions in child mortality, not only water and sanitation must become universal, but so must the habit of hand washing with soap. This requires health ministries, schools, NGOs and communities to tap every opportunity to promote hand washing with soap, especially among busy workers and children.

How to Wash Hands Properly:

Wet hands.
Lather with soap and scrub in between fingers and nails.
Rinse thoroughly.
Wipe hands with clean towel.
You can use alcohol or sanitizer if necessary.
Moisturize with lotion as often as possible.

"Clean little hands are good to see."

Article, Daily Tribune Newspaper
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