“Our Future is at Hand- Let’s Move Forward Together” necessitates conversations about the importance of hand washing – beyond COVID-19 on Global Handwashing Day

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While COVID-19 established the importance of hand washing inpreventing disease, it also pointed at the glaring lack of hand hygiene that exists across the world. As the slowly world recovers from the pandemic, the importance of hand washing necessitates conversations about the importance of hand washing beyond COVID-19. The global theme “Our Future is at Hand- Let’s Move Forward Together” continues to highlight the critical role hand hygiene plays in disease transmission with an emphasis on integrating this critical practice through behavioral changes. Studies suggest that personal behaviors cause more than 50% of illnesses and when these behaviors are optimally corrected through scientific methods, it can effectively contribute towards a healthier population aware of keeping themselves safe through preventive measures. Hand washing, though a basic and widely known method to prevent acquired infections, is often ignored, or not seriously practiced though it is the first line of defense in preventing future outbreaks. Hand Hygiene has always been the single most important way of reducing the spread of disease and infection in hospitals. It’s particularly important for healthcare professionals such as nurses, midwifes, doctors, and healthcare assistants who regularly come into close contact with patients to ensure robust hygiene practice

Speaking at a webinar organized by USAID’s flagship healthsystem strengthening project NISHTHA implemented by Jhpiego in collaboration with Unilever on the occasion of Global Handwashing Day, Dr T Dileep Kumar, President, Indian Nursing Council highlighted, ‘A big part of personal hygiene is hand hygiene and incorporating safety measures in developing habits will help avert illnesses and reduce the
spread of germs and infections. midwives are instrumental in educating communities and galvanizing behavior change at grassroots towards importance of handwashing as preventive care. Creating experiential evidence-based learning with lesser educated communities through nurses and midwives can help instill importance of handwashing.’

In their efforts to spread the importance of hand washing for disease prevention, nurses, midwives and
healthcare professionals need to be equipped with right tools to educate the masses. Additionally, they
must be provided the resources and training required to implement good hand hygiene practices to respond to the pandemic and to safely maintain essential services. By adopting safe means of health promotion, we will move into a new normal where the momentum of hand washing practices continues and helps build a healthier nation.

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