World Hand Washing Day is observed annually on October 15th as a global advocacy day to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of washing hands with soap and water as an effective, affordable method to prevent diseases and save lives.
The day also provides an opportunity for health providers and educators to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap and water at critical times.
The Nursing Quality Team at the Victoria Hospital is spearheading a hand hygiene campaign to sensitize staff, clients and the public of the importance of hand washing.
Natalie Preville, registered nurse and Quality Team Leader at the hospital said hand hygiene has proven to be a global problem in transmitting preventable bacteria from one person to another particularly in a hospital setting.
“We have been conducting audits at the Victoria Hospital. We are finding that our levels of compliance of hand hygiene is not yet up to standard and so we thought it would be a good idea to start sensitizing staff and the public because it’s not just a problem within the hospital. So if we could get everyone on board is would help alleviate or improve this situation.” Preville said.
Preville added that unless there is partnering by the private sector, hand sanitizers will not be available to the public and clients of the hospital as quickly as her team would like. However, hand sanitizers for staff will become a consistent feature within the work environment.
“We have been doing allot of teaching with the staff particularly with the method of hand washing because we have found that it’s a bit deficient. So even though staff are washing their hands when they are supposed to, if they don’t follow the correct method we are actually not effectively preventing the spread of bacteria.” Preville highlighted.
The Quality Team Leader said this sensitization is not meant for persons to revert to being unsociable by no longer extending or accepting a handshake, “but it’s important to protect ourselves and the people around us by keeping our hands clean. These are deadly weapons when they are dirty and we just have to think of all the super bugs that are out right now because of prolonged use of antibiotics etc.” Preville remarked.
She said anyone preparing or handling food for public consumption should ensure the safety of those consuming that food by washing their hands regularly. “And when you are going to purchase foods take a look at the environment. Is there somewhere that the person can wash their hands? Is the water clean? Do you know anything about their background? So these things are important, we are not saying to shun people but cleanliness is important and so vendors take note people are going to be watching and so we just need to step up and do what we need to do protect ourselves and the larger society.” Preville added.
The sensitization exercise was held on Thursday 22nd October in the car park of the Victoria Hospital. A mascot displaying a huge hand with the slogan “Germ free and proud to be,”was utilized as part of the hand hygiene campaign.