Do you ever take the time to acknowledge just how lucky you are to have access to soap and water to wash your hands? This is probably because handwashing has become just another routine part of our daily lives, unknowingly taken for granted. However, 2020 has shown us all just what an incredibly important role handwashing plays in keeping ourselves and our communities healthy! On October 15, 2020, people all over the world will take part in Global Handwashing Day; a global advocacy day that is celebrated annually to advocate for handwashing as an efficient and affordable way to prevent the spread of disease and save lives.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day is taking place during the Coronavirus pandemic when COVID-19 has already infected 7.6 million Americans and resulted in over 210,000 deaths. That’s why we believe taking part in Global Handwashing Day and spreading this year’s theme- Hand Hygiene for All- is more important than ever- and here’s why!
From Gross to Dangerous: How our Perceptions on the Importance of Good Hand Hygiene Have Changed
We’ve all seen them: that person who uses the public restroom and leaves without washing their hands. Well, did you know that less than 50% of Americans wash their hands after using a public restroom? That number gets even lower if you only consider people who wash their hands properly with soap and water for 20 seconds. Before COVID-19, poor hand hygiene was considered gross and impolite at worst, rarely viewed as a serious public health risk.
However, with communities struggling to keep their COVID-19 cases under control while educating people on the importance of hygiene, public opinion on poor hand hygiene has shifted from gross, to dangerous. As a result, we are seeing the number of people washing their hands for more than 10 seconds more than double since the pandemic. The length of time spent handwashing has also increased by 85%, with 90% of people now washing their hands for 20 seconds- a huge increase from the pre-pandemic 48.6%.
Hygiene for All: Why this Year’s Theme is So Important
The World Health Organization defines basic handwashing facilities as “the availability of a handwashing facility on the premises with soap and water” and includes fixed sinks and taps as well as mobile basins or jugs used for handwashing.
What does the Hygiene Gap Look Like?
40% of the world’s population does not have access to basic handwashing facilities
There are currently 17 countries, where more than 10 million people who lack handwashing facilities
Only 68% of health care facilities globally have basic handwashing facilities at points of care
There are a lot of inequities among and within countries with the richest wealth quintile having at least twice as much access to basic handwashing facilities as the poorest quintile
Only 57% of schools globally provide basic handwashing facilities for their students, leaving 818 million students with no where to safely wash their hands
Access to safe and clean handwashing facilities is something Global Handwashing Day has been advocating for since it was first started in 2008. This year is especially important because it is taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the promotion of hygiene through education and awareness can help save lives. In fact, hand hygiene promotion is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions.
To learn more about Global Handwashing Day, visit: https://globalhandwashing.org/
Promoting Proper Hand Hygiene in Your Business
Citron Hygiene has been helping businesses elevate their hygiene for over 45 years. However, this year’s business demands have been different, with businesses making infection prevention a central part of their facility hygiene plan now more than ever. In response, Citron has been helping our customer’s upgrade their washrooms by using touch-free fixtures like AutoSoap and AutoFaucet, replacing contaminated bulk soap dispensers with touch-free, sealed soap cartridge dispensers, HEPA-filtered Dyson hand dryers, and touch-free paper towel dispensers.
Having these fixtures in place can help significantly reduce the number of high-touch surfaces within the restroom and limit cross-contamination. Permanently upgrading your restroom to be more hygiene-friendly is a much more effective way of keeping your staff and customers safe than other temporary measured using only during the pandemic. This is because handwashing naturally increases during viral outbreaks, but studies show that as the fear of infection decreases, so does proper hygiene behavior.