Essential hand hygiene a must when handling food products

Currently, there is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods. You should always wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.

Food shopping advice

• Don’t go shopping if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You can order your groceries online, or have family or friends drop them off instead.

• When you go food shopping, you should wash your hands before you leave the house, avoid touching your face when you are out, and follow social distancing.

• When you return home, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

• It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.

• If you are sanitising surfaces or shopping bags, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how much time is needed before wiping the sanitiser off.

• Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

Frequently asked questions

When I bring my grocery shopping into my home, could it be contaminated with the Coronavirus? What do I have to do to make sure it is safe?

While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However, you should always put away your shopping as soon as you get home, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer.

If I deliver food to a relative in isolation, what do I have to do it make sure it is safe?

Firstly, if you show any symptoms, you should not offer to deliver food. If you can, follow the food shopping advice above, and it might be best to leave the shopping at the door.

I have heard that sanitisers can only be used three or four times and then hands must be washed properly in hot soapy water. Is that true?

Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water is best, but hand sanitisers are a good option when you don’t have access to soap and water, such as when you are out and about.

Can I wash my hands with cold water and soap? Is that adequate?

The temperature of the water is not that significant. The most important thing is that you wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry your hands thoroughly afterwards.

I am cocooning and I am worried about the safety of the food being left at my doorstep.

Always put away food as soon as you can, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However you should wash your hands once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

Should I wipe down/clean all food packaging coming into my house?

It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.

You should follow the food shopping advice above and wash your hands before and after you go food shopping, and after you unpack your shopping.

Should I wear gloves when handling food packaging when unpacking it from a shop?

Gloves would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

When out food shopping, should I wear gloves and wipe down the basket/trolley I am using?

Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser, and avoid touching your face.

Many shops are providing sanitiser to wipe trolley handles, as this is a high contact surface.

Published by Galway Puublisher
Thursdag 09-04-2020
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New hand washing stations to help fight hygiene-related diseases

The Ministry of Health in partnership with World Vision among other stakeholders have inaugurated 49 modern hand washing facilities set up at different health facilities across the country, which are expected to help prevent Covid-19 and hygiene-related diseases.

The event took place at Masaka Hospital in Kicukiro district on Tuesday, September 1.

According to the ministry, the entire project will involve the establishment of modern hand washing stations in about 300 health facilities across the country.

Speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that the facilities will help prevent the Covid-19 pandemic and other hygiene-related diseases.

“We thank this partnership with World Vision and other partners who worked hard to avail these facilities. This move comes as an addition effort to the already existing measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and other hygiene-related diseases,” he said.

Among primary preventive measures against Covid-19 include regular washing of hands with clean water and soap.

Ngamije also urged people in charge of health facilities where the washing stations have been set up to take care of the established infrastructure and ensure they are always functional.

Sean Kerrigan, National Director of World Vision Rwanda also noted that the Organization is delighted to help the country in the fight against Covid-19.

He said: “We are glad to play a role in the fight against hygiene-related diseases, most especially Covid-19. We know that it is a joint responsibility for us and the government to keep both young children and adults safe. Together we shall win.”

The entire project of setting up these infrastructures, according to World Vision, has cost Rwf290 million.

By Lavie Mutanganshuro
Published 01 September 2020
https://www.newtimes.co.rw/


There's Another Benefit to Hand-Washing During Pandemic

Halogenated flame retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are known to be a health risk to children. Previous research has shown that exposure to these chemicals can cause lower IQ and behavioral problems in children.

“It’s well-known that viruses are transferred between surfaces and hands,” said study co-author Miriam Diamond, a professor in the University of Toronto’s department of earth sciences.

“Our study shows that toxic chemicals like flame retardants do the same. That’s another reason we should all wash our hands often and well,” Diamond said in a university news release.

Study co-author Lisa Melymuk, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, noted that “if a flame retardant is used in the TVs, we then find it throughout the house, including on the hands of the resident.”

And even though regular hand-washing can reduce your exposure to these chemicals, Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, Calif., suggested that “to reduce health harm from flame retardants, the electronics industry should stop their unnecessary use.”

Blum said, “Fire safety can be achieved by innovative product design and materials instead of the use of toxic chemicals that can remain in our homes — and in us — for years to come.”


More information

The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more on flame retardants.

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, June 9, 2020

 

By Robert Preidt
Published: Last Updated:


Experts explain why strict hand hygiene couldn’t be sustained

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |

With the zeal of hand washing going down months into coronavirus disease transmission in the country, experts have stated that it was inevitable as people were only acting in shock following announcements of a strange killer disease.

Hand hygiene alone is touted as having the ability to keep away many pathogens including the previous coronaviruses that have affected other countries and the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the the virus was confirmed in the country, many people including politicians and religious leaders came out to demonstrate how proper handwashing is done.

Around that time, the Ministry of Health said that the percentage of those that wash hands that has always staggered around 30 percent had increased to slightly above 50 percent. Now, experts worry that we have gone steps back even as the virus continues to transmit with the country having over 700 infections currently.

Dr Richard Mugambe, a lecturer in Makerere University’s Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health says that sustaining hand hygiene would have been possible if implementer’s of the initiative adopted a behavioral model to strategize on how this behavior that’s not deeply entrenched in the community continues.

Dr Fredrick Oporia, an epidemiologist and currently a disease control research fellow at Makerere University School of Public Health says that observing how people are washing hands, only a few use the recommended quantities and spend the recommended time of 20 seconds washing their hands.

In public places like markets, business centres and other facilities, notes that at the height of the scare, people had put in place facilities which have only remained as a shield to protect them from enforcement officers.

However, David Katwere Ssemwanga, the Technical Assistant of Uganda Sanitation Fund in the Ministry of Health said that the Ministry has made it mandatory for all households and business premises to have wash facilities although they are still challenged with enforcement something they hoped could be made stronger by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognizing that people even in crowded city places have gone back to their past, he said they plan to come up with more stringent measures but only after ensuring that there’s considerable access to safe water for all. He says their interventions have started with health facilities where they are now availing them foot-operated handwashing facilities with funding from UNICEF.

Even in these facilities, he acknowledged that not all have water in place but the plan is to avail them water such that individual facilities can provide themselves soap. But as initial focus on sustainable handwashing facilities goes to health facilities, key crowded places like markets and business areas pose a big risk of infection.

For instance, in Kikuubo, Kampala’s major business hub, one of the administrators Sam Bafirawala Muyomba tells URN that to be able to do some bit of handwashing at the all-time crowded centre, they buy about 60 jerry cans of water at a fee of 500 Shillings each.

He admits they are conducting their handwashing on the principle of something is better than nothing, not as WHO recommends.

By The Independent
Published June 17, 2020
https://www.independent.co.ug


Hand Hygiene As the Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

A dermatologist’s advice – including how to care for over-sanitized hands.

Now more than ever, we’re constantly washing our hands with soap and water or using harsh hand sanitizers. It’s important to know which products are effective at removing viruses and bacteria from your hands and how to care for your skin to minimize irritation.

What products are effective at killing viruses and bacteria?

While many of us like to use fragrant hand soaps and sanitizers, they aren’t ideal for skin health. Even though they’re effective at killing viruses and bacteria on the hands, the fragrance that creates wonderful aromas is irritating to the skin. Fragrance pulls moisture from our skin, making it more dry, sensitive and irritated than it already is. It’s best to opt for fragrance-free products.

When you’re looking at soap ingredients, know that a specific ingredient isn’t needed to be effective. The Food and Drug Administration says there’s no proof that consumer-labeled “anti-bacterial” soap is better at preventing illness or infection than ordinary soap and water. Viruses, in particular COVID-19, are coated with a lipid envelope, and soap dissolves this protective barrier. That makes the virus unstable and less likely to survive – regardless of whether the product is labeled anti-bacterial or not.

The physical act of lathering soap, washing and then rinsing reduces most of the viruses and bacteria on the hands. It doesn’t make a difference if hot or cold running water are used to wash hands. Still, it’s best to use lukewarm water, as water that’s too hot will cause the skin to become drier.

If you’re shopping for hand sanitizer, those with 60% or greater ethyl alcohol disrupt the RNA molecules in the virus, which prevents it from replicating (making copies of itself). Try to stick to fragrance-free options. Although soap and water are more effective at cleaning hands due to the scrubbing action, sanitizer is a good alternative if soap isn’t available. However, if your hands are soiled, sanitizer shouldn’t be used.

How to care for your skin

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. You cannot overuse moisturizer. When you’re deciding what product to use, look for lotions that are fragrance-free and contain ceramide. That’s an ingredient found in our skin that helps trap water in the skin and maintain the barrier.

Alternatively, if you don’t have or can’t find a ceramide-containing moisturizer, plain petroleum jelly is fine. Oils are less effective at moisturizing the skin, since they sit on the surface and don’t help restore the normal barrier function like ceramide does. If you’re using an over-the-counter moisturizer and it’s not enough to combat dry, irritated skin, see a board-certified dermatologist for other options.

By Shilpi Khetarpal, M.D., Contributor
Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, is a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Published June 17, 2020
https://health.usnews.com


Demand for Hand Sanitizers and Disinfectants Increasing as the Pandemic Concerns Grow

The global hand sanitizer market is projected to grow from USD 1.2 billion in 2019 to USD 2.14 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 7.5% during the forecast period 2019-2027, according to a report from FiorMarkets. It said that the growing demand for wellness and health products with a rising rate of diseases has increased the demand for hand sanitizer market. Also, increasing awareness about hand hygiene is driving the need of sanitizers. Hand sanitizer plays a considerable role in maintaining hand hygiene. The rising advertisement on social media has exposed people to current trends of hygiene, healthy lifestyle and personal care, which increase the use of hand sanitizers. A unique benefit of using hand sanitizer is that it reduces the risk of respiratory infections and gastrointestinal infection. The demand for hand sanitizers is increasing, with the growing coronavirus crisis rapidly across the globe. With the outbreak of the global pandemic, the need for hand sanitizers has quadrupled and an increase in the overall growth of 16x from December 2019 to March 2020. In addition to this, to prevent the infectious diseases, many people prefer hand sanitizers, further contributing to the growth of the market. Furthermore, an increase in awareness about personal hygiene among the people, driving the growth of the market. However, high usage of hand sanitizer can kill the good bacteria of the human body, which leads to the occurrence of diseases, may hamper the growth of the market.” Active companies in the markets this week include NxGen Brands Inc. (OTCPK: NXGB), The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX), The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE: PG), iBio, Inc. (NYSE: IBIO), Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA).

The article from FiorMarkets continued: “North America dominated the global hand sanitizer market and valued at USD 420.25 million in the year 2019. The presence of key market player across the region is one of the primary contributors to the growth of the market. High awareness about hygiene among the people, also driving the growth of the market in the North America region. However, with the Covid-19 outbreak, the demand for hand sanitizer has been upsurge, and the region is feeling the shortage of hand sanitizers in the countries such as the U.S. and Canada. Thus, the state governments are pushing the manufacturing companies to boost the production of hand sanitizers in the region. On the other hand, the Asia Pacific region is projected to grow at the highest CAGR of 10.25% over the forecast period. India is experiencing the almost ten-fold demand for hand sanitizers, with increasing cases of coronavirus in the country.

NxGen Brands Inc. (OTCPK: NXGB) BREAKING NEWS: NxGen Brands (NXGB) Newly Added PPE And FDA Registered Cleaning and Disinfectant Product Lines to Its Portfolio – NxGen Brands announces the addition of a full product line of commercial, industrial, and residential cleaning supplies, disinfectants, and sanitizers.

NxGen Brands, Inc newly added line of products consist of proprietary and licensed formulations registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines in their composition and production for human interaction. These products have specific formulations designated for commercial, industrial, and residential markets. Some of the intended markets include bars, restaurants, schools, hotels, casinos, factories, various sectors of the travel industry, and the individual consumer given that NxGen Brands has developed the capability to provide options for purchase orders in a variety of sizes ranging from personal-use product quantity to 300 plus gallon totes.

Angel Burgos, CEO and President of NxGen Brands, commented, “We have been identifying diligently over the course of the past several months to offer the public a new addition to our already existing and popular product lines. This new addition started out with our interest in high end topicals for pain management and condition treatment, which eventually lead to hand sanitizer, and ultimately brought us around full circle to put us where we need to be, and that is at the front line of our customers’ needs. That is why we are now offering, what we anticipate being, a well-received and highly demanded line of health-focused products, which are all manufactured and processed in the USA. Currently we are setting up operations on global sales platforms such as Amazon and Shopify which gives our prod exposure to millions of potential customers with both commercial and private needs. We anticipate that both the marketplace and our shareholders will be thrilled with our innovations and new additions.”

Products included in the commercial, industrial, and residential cleaning supplies, disinfectants, and sanitizers can be seen at our newly updated Corporate Website: www.nxgenbrands.com and for more information or to make bulk purchases, please contact by phone (888) 315-6339 or email sales@nxgenbrands.com.

Other recent developments in the markets include:

The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX) recently announced that on Monday, Aug. 3, it will host a live audio webcast of a discussion with the investment community about its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2020 results. The webcast is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. ET). A replay of the webcast will be available on the company’s website.

The Clorox Company is a leading multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer and professional products with approximately 8,800 employees worldwide and fiscal year 2019 sales of $6.2 billion. Clorox markets some of the most trusted and recognized consumer brand names, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products; Pine-Sol® cleaners; Liquid-Plumr® clog removers; Poett® home care products; Fresh Step® cat litter; Glad® bags and wraps; Kingsford® charcoal; Hidden Valley® dressings and sauces; Brita® water-filtration products; Burt’s Bees® natural personal care products; RenewLife® digestive health products; and Rainbow Light®, Natural Vitality™ and NeoCell® dietary supplements. The company also markets industry-leading products and technologies for professional customers, including those sold under the CloroxPro™ and Clorox Healthcare® brand names. Nearly 80% of the company’s sales are generated from brands that hold the No. 1 or No. 2 market share positions in their categories.

The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE: PG) recently announced a hygiene education and product donation initiative to help reach the estimated 48 million kids under the age of 121 that are reentering playgrounds, parks, recreational facilities and schools in the U.S. this month. Safeguard will donate $10 million to promote handwashing habits among kids and provide more underserved communities and families with free hygiene products through organizations including Save the Children, Americares, and Feeding America.

With the national surge in demand of hand hygiene products, Safeguard is introducing new hand soaps and sanitizers that wash away bacteria and germs into US retail stores. The brand expects to increase manufacturing capacity to 45,000 liters of hand sanitizer per week once fully operational.

iBio, Inc. (NYSE: IBIO) a biologics contract manufacturing organization and biotechnology company, recently announced that IBM Watson Health has selected iBio to receive 18 months of use of the IBM Clinical Development (ICD) solution, free-of-charge.

IBM Watson Health recently began offering its ICD solution to eligible trial sponsor organizations as part of its efforts to help support the medical community to address the COVID-19 pandemic. IBM Watson Health has received interest in the offering from numerous hospitals, sponsors, contract research organizations and academic institutions, and is currently enabling 15 COVID-19 disease trials.

Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) a clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients, recently announced the publication of an interim analysis of the open-label Phase 1 study of mRNA-1273, its vaccine candidate against COVID-19, in The New England Journal of Medicine. This interim analysis evaluated a two-dose vaccination schedule of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart across three dose levels (25, 100, 250 µg) in 45 healthy adult participants ages 18-55 years, and reports results through Day 57. Results from participants in the initial dose cohorts who received both vaccinations and were evaluated at pre-specified timepoints reaffirm the positive interim data assessment announced on May 18th and show mRNA-1273 induced rapid and strong immune responses against SARS-CoV-2. The study was led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

DISCLAIMER: FN Media Group LLC (FNM), which owns and operates FinancialNewsMedia.com and MarketNewsUpdates.com, is a third party publisher and news dissemination service provider, which disseminates electronic information through multiple online media channels. FNM is NOT affiliated in any manner with any company mentioned herein. FNM and its affiliated companies are a news dissemination solutions provider and are NOT a registered broker/dealer/analyst/adviser, holds no investment licenses and may NOT sell, offer to sell or offer to buy any security. FNM’s market updates, news alerts and corporate profiles are NOT a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities. The material in this release is intended to be strictly informational and is NEVER to be construed or interpreted as research material. All readers are strongly urged to perform research and due diligence on their own and consult a licensed financial professional before considering any level of investing in stocks. All material included herein is republished content and details which were previously disseminated by the companies mentioned in this release. FNM is not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers. Investors are cautioned that they may lose all or a portion of their investment when investing in stocks. For current services performed FNM has been compensated twenty five hundred dollars for news coverage of the current press releases issued by NxGen Brands Inc. by a non-affiliated third party. FNM HOLDS NO SHARES OF ANY COMPANY NAMED IN THIS RELEASE.

This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. “Forward-looking statements” describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as “may”, “future”, “plan” or “planned”, “will” or “should”, “expected,” “anticipates”, “draft”, “eventually” or “projected”. You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in a company’s annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB and other filings made by such company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof and FNM undertakes no obligation to update such statements.

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Published PALM BEACH, Florida, July 16, 2020
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SOURCE Financialnewsmedia.com


Astonishing growth in Hand Hygiene Monitoring Market Business Opportunities and Global Industry Analysis by 2026 – Top Companies Halma plc, Yamabiko Corporation, BioVigil Healthcare Systems, Inc., Deb Group Ltd., GOJO Industries, Inc

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This report focuses on the top players in global market, like Halma plc, Yamabiko Corporation, BioVigil Healthcare Systems, Inc., Deb Group Ltd., GOJO Industries, Inc., HandGiene Corp., Ecolab, Midmark Corporation, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., and AiRISTA Flow (Halyard Health).

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Published: July 12, 2020

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Water & Sanitation This WHO-UNICEF Initiative Is Fighting so Everyone Can Wash Their Hands Against COVID-19

Nearly half of the world population can’t wash their hands at home.

Why Global Citizens Should Care

COVID-19 has been called an equaliser, because it doesn’t discriminate based on race, gender, geography, sexuality or religion. Yet, in the months since the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic, it’s become increasingly evident that people from marginalised communities and poor countries bear the brunt of the virus due to lack of access to resources, like water and sanitation. You can join us here to take actions to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable communities.

It’s often been said that changing personal behaviour is vital in containing COVID-19: wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distance, and frequently washing hands with soap and clean water.

Yet for 3 billion people globally, access to hygiene is not as simple as turning on a tap, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

That’s 40% of the world population who cannot wash their hands with soap and water in their homes.

The majority are in sub-Saharan Africa, while children and people who live in informal settlements, refugee camps, or conflict areas are most affected by the continent’s lack of clean water and sanitation facilities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF have recently launched a hand-washing initiative aimed at bringing attention to the plight of people who don’t have access to clean water and are, therefore, unable to protect themselves effectively from COVID-19.

“Hand hygiene has never been more critical, not only to combat COVID-19, but to prevent a range of other infections. Yet, nearly six months since the onset of the pandemic, the most vulnerable communities around the world continue to lack access to basic hand hygiene,” said the executive directors of UNICEF and WHO, Henrietta Fore and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a joint statement.

The statement added: “According to our [UNICEF and WHO] latest data, the majority of people in the least developed countries are at immediate risk of COVID-19 infection due to a lack of hand hygiene facilities.”

The statement said one billion people are at direct risk of contracting COVID-19 as a result of not having water and soap in their homes, and that almost half of then are children.

However, it’s not only homes that lack access to clean water, the statement added. “All too often, schools, clinics, hospitals and other public spaces also lack hand hygiene facilities, putting children, teachers, patients and health workers at risk. Globally, two in five in health care facilities do not have hand hygiene at points of care,” said the statement.

A report by World Vision revealed that nine out of 10 countries in the world with the worst access to water are African.

These include: Eritrea, where 81% of the population do not have clean drinking water. In Uganda, 61% of the population doesn’t have basic water services. The figures are 61% in Ethiopia, 60% in Somalia, 59% in Angola, 58% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 58% in Chad, 54% in Niger, and 53% in Mozambique.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an uncomfortable truth: too many people around the world simply cannot clean their hands,” said the statement.

UNICEF and WHO said they will be working through the initiative with other international partners, national governments, the public and private sectors, and community organisations to ensure that products and services are available and affordable, and to enable a culture of hygiene. This includes ensuring that handwashing stations are accessible, especially in disadvantaged areas and among marginalised communities.

“We must also ramp up investment in hygiene, water and sanitation, and in infection prevention and control,” said the statement. “We urge countries to scale up, systemise, and institutionalise hand hygiene and commit to strengthening the enabling environment, supply vital products and services, and to actively promote hygiene practices as part of a package of actions that save lives.”

You can join us to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities by taking action here.

By Lerato Mogoatlhe
Published July 2, 2020
https://www.globalcitizen.org


Controlling COVID-19: hand hygiene must be accessible to all

UNICEF and the World Health Organization have launched the ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ joint initiative to help control the spread of COVID-19.

In a bid to control the spread of the novel COVID-19 infection the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization have launched a new join initiative ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ to help make hand hygiene accessible to all, including the least developed countries that have a lack of hygiene facilities.

Hand Hygiene for All

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, made a statement on the launch of the initiative. “As the world struggles to cope with a new disease, one of the most effective tools to prevent its spread is also one of the most basic. Hand hygiene has never been more critical, not only to combat COVID-19, but to prevent a range of other infections. Yet, nearly six months since the onset of the pandemic, the most vulnerable communities around the world continue to lack access to basic hand hygiene.

“According to our latest data, the majority of people in the least developed countries are at immediate risk of COVID-19 infection due to a lack of hand hygiene facilities. In the 60 highest-risk countries, two out of three people – 1 billion people in total – lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home. Around half are children.

“All too often, schools, clinics, hospitals and other public spaces also lack hand hygiene facilities, putting children, teachers, patients and health workers at risk. Globally, two in five healthcare facilities do not have hand hygiene at points of care. We cannot overstate the threat.

“Many of the those who lack access to basic handwashing live in overcrowded, desperately poor conditions. Even before the pandemic, children and families faced barriers to accessing health and hygiene services. Now the grave risk of COVID-19 threatens further suffering and spread of this deadly disease.

“If we are going to control COVID-19, we have to make hand hygiene accessible to all. That is why we are launching a new global initiative to move the world towards the same goal: supporting the most vulnerable communities with the means to protect their health and environment.

“We are joining our efforts with those of other international partners, national governments, public and private sectors, and civil society organisations to ensure affordable products and services are available, especially in disadvantaged areas, and to enable a culture of hygiene.

“Public health response plans and reopening plans should couple physical distancing and other control measures with hand hygiene and access to safe water and sanitation, and must reach the most vulnerable communities.

“Our teams are developing comprehensive country roadmaps and committing human and financial resources to support global and local implementation efforts. Task teams will facilitate learning and knowledge exchange, while multisector stakeholders will strengthen hygiene programming and monitor global progress. Leaders and community mobilisers will advise on strategies and advocate for their implementation. Only together can we achieve universal hand hygiene.

“We must also ramp up investment in hygiene, water and sanitation, and in infection prevention and control. We urge countries to scale up, systemise and institutionalise hand hygiene and commit to strengthening the enabling environment, supply vital products and services, and to actively promote hygiene practices as part of a package of actions that save lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an uncomfortable truth: too many people around the world simply cannot clean their hands. But we can help to reduce the spread, and we can prevent future infectious diseases from following a similar path. It starts by making sure everyone, everywhere has access to basic hand hygiene facilities with soap and clean water or alcohol-based products in homes, schools and healthcare facilities.”

 

Published


Could COVID-19 Permanently Change Hand Hygiene?

An anthropologist tackles the slippery subject of hand sanitization in a world torn between concerns over contagion and antibiotic resistance.

Here in the Philippines, as in many parts of the world, there’s been an outbreak of hand sanitizers. Since late January, pump dispensers and bottles have appeared everywhere: airports, schools, dining tables, handbags. In SM, the country’s largest chain of shopping malls, large containers of hand sanitizers greet visitors as they pass through security. “This is a sanitized zone,” SM’s posters read. “Thank you for using the alcohol/disinfectant provided.”

When the enhanced community quarantine started here on March 17, sanitizer showed up at road checkpoints. And though the shops in the mall are closed, customers can still shop at mall supermarkets—after the staff sprays alcohol on their hands.
This is not surprising. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred people around the world to panic-buy Purell and other hand sanitizers, soaps, and antibacterial wipes. What is surprising is that, until the pandemic hit Western countries, the trend was going in the opposite direction.

Over the past decade, there’s been a growing concern that the impulse to kill all germs could have serious consequences, such as the creation of resistant superbugs. This has certainly impacted people’s hand hygiene habits.

For the last few years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised people to stop using antibacterial soap, which is no more effective at preventing illness than regular soap and may negatively impact health. After discovering that common ingredients in antibacterial soap—most notably triclosan and triclocarban—disrupt hormones in lab animals and induce antibiotic resistance, the FDA banned those chemicals in 2016 and replaced them with alternatives.

However, when soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizers and wipes are considered an acceptable alternative because they rely on alcohol to vanquish certain viruses (including coronaviruses) and bacteria.

Still, before the current pandemic, some health experts urged people to cut back even on alcohol-based hand sanitizer. That’s partly because some bacteria are becoming more tolerant of alcohol. And it’s partly due to concerns that sanitizers might harm the microbiome—the trillions of microbes living on and in the human body that are essential for healthy immune function, digestion, and more.
In recent years, many researchers have expressed concerns that over-sanitized societies are contributing to autoimmune disorders, allergies, and inflammatory conditions. This “hygiene hypothesis” is controversial, but there’s no question that scientists and the public have been awakening to the fact that some microbes can be beneficial.

Yet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is understandably consumed by the process of hand sanitizing, and many people are finding it nearly impossible to buy sanitizer online or in stores. People who just weeks ago purposely petted dogs to boost the diversity of their microbiomes now find themselves disinfecting their hand sanitizer bottles with antibacterial wipes.

To understand this sudden change, it is revealing to explore the complex history and anthropology of hand cleansing. What motivates people’s handwashing habits? How do beliefs about sanitizers and microbes figure in? How have previous epidemics led to shifts in these notions? And what might the post-COVID future hold for hand hygiene?
Even before 19th-century scientists discovered that germs cause disease, handwashing was important for hygienic and symbolic purposes in many societies and religious traditions. The Prophet Muhammad, for instance, called on Muslims to wash their hands in a variety of situations, including “before and after any meal,” “after going to the toilet,” “after touching a dog, shoes, or a cadaver,” and “after handling anything soiled.”

In other societies, hand hygiene practices primarily originated from secular discoveries. In 1846, Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis observed that mothers giving birth were more likely to die if they were treated by doctors who handled cadavers beforehand. So, Semmelweis mandated that hospital staff wash their hands with soap and chlorine. He later became known as the father of hand hygiene. A few years later, forward-thinking nurse Florence Nightingale implemented handwashing in British army hospitals.

Despite the efforts of these pioneers, the practice of widespread, regular handwashing was slow to take off in most of the world. In the U.S., the first national hand hygiene guidelines weren’t published until the 1980s, spurred by several foodborne outbreaks and hospital-associated infections. It was in that decade that a global hand cleansing movement was born.

The rise of hand sanitizers mirrors this move of hand hygiene from the hospital to the world at large. Some accounts claim that Lupe Hernandez, a nursing student in California, invented hand sanitizer in 1966 when she realized alcohol mixed with gel could help hospital staff clean their hands in a jiffy.

Others trace its beginnings to Gojo, a family-owned Ohio company that launched a hand cleanser for auto mechanics then tweaked the recipe and released it in 1988 as Purell. After a slow start, the product achieved the near ubiquity it enjoys today.
Incidentally, alcohol-based hand sanitizers once caused ambivalence among Muslims, owing to alcohol being haram (forbidden). But today, Muslim health care workers largely accept them, even though the question of whether hand sanitizers are halal (permissible) continues to spark debate.

Epidemics have repeatedly stimulated the popularity of hand sanitizers. In the Philippines, a clothing store called Bench introduced Alcogel shortly after the 1997 H1N1 outbreak. It attained “phenomenal success,” according to Bench’s CEO Ben Chan. A similar sanitization surge occurred in the U.S. during the H1N1 epidemic of 2009.
As The Guardian’s Laura Barton wrote in 2012, “Thanks to the heightened fear of contamination experienced during recent flu epidemics, there is now a value judgment attached to carrying and using an antibacterial gel.”

Infectious disease outbreaks have also influenced societies’ soap-and-water habits. A 2003 study of six international airports found that in Toronto—which was hit by a major outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that year—95 percent of male travelers and 97 percent of female travelers washed their hands in the public restrooms. By contrast, in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, only 63 percent of men and 78 percent of women washed their hands.

So, is fear of disease a great motivator for soaping up or squirting hand gel? Perhaps during a pandemic, the answer is yes. However, fear generally has only a temporary effect on ablutions, according to a review led by anthropologist Valerie Curtis. Furthermore, Curtis has warned, creating cleanliness campaigns that play on people’s anxiety is not good for mental health.

Instead, she recommends harnessing a different emotion.

In the early 2000s, Curtis was aiming to change the handwashing habits of people in Ghana, where only 4 percent of adults regularly used soap after going to the bathroom. Previous campaigns had failed, and the situation was urgent, since an estimated 84,000 children were dying of diarrhea each year.

So, Curtis created a campaign designed to generate disgust. At the time, bathrooms were considered cleaner alternatives to pit latrines, so they didn’t inspire an ick factor that might prompt Ghanaians to lather up. Curtis and her group developed ads that showed mothers and children exiting bathrooms with their hands covered in purple pigment, which they then transferred to everything they touched. Soap use subsequently rose by 13 percent following trips to the toilet and by 41 percent before eating.

Such a campaign could inspire future efforts in the wake of COVID-19. In a study released in December 2019, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Cyprus calculated that if travelers at airports raised the bar on their soap-use habits, the impact of a future pandemic could be reduced by 24 to 69 percent. Yet the same researchers estimated that, although 70 percent of air travelers wash their hands, most do not wash them adequately (frequently, with soap, for at least 20 seconds), so only 20 percent actually have clean hands.
Pandemics arguably tip the scale back to a Pasteurian paradigm.

Shifting views about microbes may complicate the issue of disgust. MIT anthropologist Heather Paxson has written that many people hold a Pasteurian worldview, in which they “blame colds on germs, demand antibiotics from doctors, and drink ultra-pasteurized milk and juice, while politicians on the campaign trail slather on hand sanitizer.”

But Paxson also points out that there is an emergent, alternative paradigm: a “post-Pasteurian” view. Post-Pasteurians “might be concerned about antibiotic resistance” and embrace microbiome diversifiers like probiotics, unpasteurized milk, kombucha, and unsanitized handshakes.

Since Paxson’s work was published in 2008, this post-Pasteurian paradigm has grown. Scientists have even considered ways they might promote more positive feelings for microorganisms and foster collaboration in human-microbe relationships.

Pandemics arguably tip the scale back to a Pasteurian paradigm. Currently, people are bombarded with images (and imaginings) of a potentially deadly virus for which there is, at least at the moment, neither vaccine nor cure. Thus, hand sanitizers and wipes emblazoned with the statement “kills 99.9 percent of germs” give people a sense of control over an unseen, and suddenly hostile, microbial world.
But people’s hand hygiene practices are also motivated by a visible and often friendlier force.

In 2016, researchers found that doctors and nurses at a California hospital washed or sanitized their hands 57 percent of the time when they knew that designated “hygiene patrol” nurses were watching them but only 22 percent of the time when volunteers who they didn’t recognize observed them.

Just like the wearing of face masks, social pressure can certainly motivate people to clean their hands. A recent review from Curtis and other researchers showed that people were more likely to lather up when there was more than one person present in a public restroom.

Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, some health experts are attempting to “responsibilize individuals” by framing handwashing as a selfless act that saves lives. Social media campaigns like #SafeHands and #HandwashingHeroes are also making appeals to social responsibility by showing celebrities and adorable children getting sudsy to prevent disease.

Similarly, face masks became an emblem of “public spiritedness” during the 1918 influenza pandemic. In some places, for instance, Japan, the practice of wearing masks continued and became part of the country’s hygiene culture.

In the aftermath of past pandemics, people have generally returned to their previous handwashing habits. But the COVID-19 crisis is different from other outbreaks. Never before have hand sanitizing and social distancing practices been enacted on such a global scale.

So, could COVID-19 cause permanent changes to handwashing habits around the planet? Could hand sanitizer become an enduring symbol of responsible world citizenship? Could the pro-microbe perspective swing back to a Pasteurian panic over germs?
Only time will tell. But it’s something to ponder while you scrub or sanitize your hands for at least 20 seconds.

By Gideon Lasco
He is a senior lecturer of anthropology at the University of the Philippines.
Published  8 April 2020
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