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Oct 16, 2014

Healthy Livings looks at the importance of washing your hands

The seventh Global Hand Washing Day was commemorated on Wednesday, October fifteenth. The focus on this basic good hygiene practice may seem immaterial to some but, in reality it is not. Globally, it has been documented that the vast majority of people are not washing ethic hands properly after using the bathroom and in some cases, they skip the process all together. In Belize specifically, a recent gastroenteritis study proved that our hand washing habits are definitely not up to par. So tonight on Healthy Living, we’ll refresh you on the merits and proper technique of hand washing.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It’s suppose to be as easy as 1…2…3! But let me ask you this question: How many times have you washed your hands today? Yes, we learn as children that good hygiene is important but there is reason to believe that the lesson hasn’t been clear enough.


Dr. Cecilia Eck, Pediatrician, K.H.M.H. & Pediatric Center

Cecilia Eck

“Earlier this year we did a formal study, the Ministry of Health along with CAREC and funded by PAHO, interviewed households that had diarrheal illnesses. It showed that 50 percent who contracted it were viral – Rota virus specifically. Second to that was parasites which was surprising to me. I had thought salmonella would be second. Parasites are usually spread through fecal matter and poor hand washing skills. After that was the salmonella and other bacteria. Those are all a result of bad hygiene? Yes, all of them – viruses, bacteria, parasites but it does show that we do mimic the rest of the world.”


And if you’re still not convinced, Dr. Eck challenges you to consider how many times a day you touch your face- specifically, eyes nose or mouth. This is precisely how viruses and bacteria are spread.


Dr. Cecilia Eck

“My grandmother use to say what is the most dirtiest part of your body, well you know your butt, what’s the second most dirties part…eh…I don’t know. You hands. Why? Because you touch a lot of stuff. Once you touch your nose or your eyes, it’s a conduit to your body, any opening any orifice. When the diarrheal illnesses start to go up in numbers you start to notice that the “wash hands” advertisements start to come on. But yes, we are woefully lacking in teaching it not only to healthcare workers but the population at large.”


In fact, proper hand washing should not only be a priority for the general public but is absolutely crucial for healthcare workers as it is vital part of keeping hospital acquired infections – like the now infamous enterobacter cloacae – down to a minimum. Eck has just recently spearheaded a workshop at K.H.M.H. on the very topic.


Dr. Cecilia Eck

“At K.H.M.H., as you know that’s where I work, we were invited and it is now a mandatory workshop that all healthcare workers have to attend. The infectious disease nurses sit you down that you have to watch and teach you hand washing skills. Most importantly if I forget to wash my hands between seeing the patients, a nurse, an attendant, a janitor can stop me and say Doc you didn’t wash your hands. It is now part of our culture; we’re starting to make it now a part of our culture. That simple maneuver can and will significantly decrease bacterial transmission.”


Health care workers should wash their hands after just about any & all contact with patients.


Dr. Cecilia Eck

“For us it’s a little bit more poignant. They call it the five moments. Before you touch a patient, after you touch a patient, before you put in a line or IV, after you touch the solutions, you take blood or a sample of urine. The last one is after you remove yourself, even if you don’t touch the bed, if you touch the bed or the bed rail, you have to wash your hands before moving on to the other patient.”

So what is the proper way to wash your hands?


Dr. Cecilia Eck

“It requires very little all you need is potable water, a little bit of soap and if done correctly you can eliminate a lot of the bacteria on the hands. Wet your hand thoroughly, put a two or three squirts of the hand soap on your hands, bars are ok but the hand soap is better. Lather properly, back to front, between each finger, cover the palms and then you rinse. Then you take the linen, they actually say paper is better than linen because the linen can keep bacteria. Dry your hands. The length of time should be about the length of time singing happy birthday to you, two times and that works out to about twenty seconds. As simple and as effective as that you kill most of the bugs on your hands.”


Ultimately hand washing with soap can save your life; by preventing the transmission of common and even potentially lethal diseases.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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