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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Have You Washed Your Hands?

…Washing of hands combat germs, diseases

Rebecca Ejifoma
Regular hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or more remains a factor capable of combating infectious diseases and germs like bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted through contaminated hands. And the most vulnerable people worldwide, according to experts, are children, the elderly and those whose immune system are weak.

Medical Officer of Health Centre Ikota, Dr. Oladapo Ashiyanbi, encourages pupils in Lagos to wash their hands eight times every day with water and soap, adding, “You should wash your hands with soap and water eight times daily. Don’t buy roadside foods that are not covered. It is exposed to germs. Don’t pick food from the floor.”

Now, when the virulent Ebola first landed in Lagos through the Liberian Patrick Sawyer from Monrovia on 20 July 2014 and claimed several lives including that of heroine Dr. Stella Adadevoh, hand sanitizers became the most sought commodity in the country. Nigerians were so terrified that they adopted new lifestyles like washing of hands often and using of hand sanitisers.

Indeed, Ebola shook Nigeria like a time bomb in war. Nigerians feared to shake hands colleagues, friends, partners in offices and schools. Hugging became scarce even among lovers. Passengers preferred motorcycles to commercial buses for fear of being sandwiched and contract Ebola through carrier's body fluids like sweat. And brothels became void of clients for fear of transmission through semen. So, said experts.

Interestingly, companies included hand washing exercise in their curricular. From the entrance of each company especially hotels, security guards were standby to instruct guests and staffers to use their washing sink and hand sanitiser dispensers attached to the walls before going in.

Undoubtedly, hand hygiene was so vehement that year not because Nigerians wanted to do it but because the media reported the cases of Ebola daily backed up with statistics and recommendations from health experts on what to do. Hence, Nigerians become more obedient and docile that they watched out for symptoms like fever, vomiting and diarrhea with sanitisers in and outside their bags.

Sadly today, it seems to have all disappeared. Everyone seems to have gone back to his old ways. All the  sanitisers seem to have gone. And do Nigerians now shake hands everywhere they go. According to a business guy in Apapa Machines, Sam Akintunde, said bitterly: “At a point, I feared to go to work. I feared Ebola even more than death. I washed my hands even when I touched dust. I never shook hands with my boss. But Ebola is gone. I shake everyone 24/7.”

It is in line with the fight against sudden rise of epidemic that the Deputy Managing Director of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh (DRASA) HealthTrust, Dr. Ama Adadevoh has reminded Nigerians that hand washing is a good practice that is hygienic enough to combat infectious diseases alongside environmental sanitation.

“It is true. At that time (2014), there was a lot of fear and public education and importance of hand washing. Because people were afraid, they listened to the advice. But obviously, we don’t have Ebola anymore and everybody has gone back to his old ways.”

She continued: “This boils down to what I said earlier; we need more public health education for people to understand the importance of hand washing.”

With the knowledge that children are among the most vulnerable, DRASA establishes hand washing campaign. “As of today, DRASA has reached over 10,000 students. “We are working with the Ministry of Education, too. And we are going into schools; we got formation to do it. We talk to the students about the importance of washing their hands and the proper technic in doing it.”

To inject this successfully into the students', the DRASA HealthTrust expressed that it taught the students a song about hand washing. And it seems to be working. “It seems like we will have an impact. We ae hoping these children will go back to their community and share this information. We could make a difference. And we hope to take it into areas like the food industry.”

Meanwhile, health experts have lamented the continuous deadly flood that has been tormenting residents of Lekki, Victoria island and Surulere areas of Lagos State. They blamed this factor to the carefree and unhygienic practices of Lagosians at home and on the streets.

“You dump empty bottles of water, nylons and all kinds of dirt in drainages. From your cars' with does, you toss dirt to the road sides even on high way. Now, drainages are blocked,” Senior Health Specialist, International Finance Corporation (IFC)/World Bank, Dr Olumide Okunola, had said.

He described it as unhygienic and bad environmental practices, which is now causing more harm to the state through flood that could snatch lives and properties.
He said this at a forum of six panelists to proffer panacea and strategies on preventive measures against any epidemic outbreak like Ebola and its family members.

Simple hygienic ways to wash your hands
Dr. Ashiyande told pupils to use soap and water always to wash. He recommended using running tap rather than washing hands in a bowl of water with a partner or people as done in Nigeria when eating swallow like eba or fufu or pounded yam.

Time to wash your hands
According to BetterHealthChannel, people should wash their hands before, during and after preparing food; whenever they touch or handle any raw food; before and after eating; after using a tissue or handkerchief; before and after attending to sick children or other family members; after handling rubbish, sweeping the floor or working in the garden; after handling animals; after using a public bus or cab; after taking change from a bus conductor or a seller; after hand shake and after using the toilet or changing diapers