Your health is in your hands
Dated: 05-09-2013

Global majors such as Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser take up awareness campaigns on hand hygiene and how clean hands save lives Hand hygiene sounds very common aspect, but it impacts our lives a lot. Clean hands save lives. Yes, several health studies observe that about 80 per cent of diseases are transmitted through touching people in unhygienic way. Without proper awareness about hand hygiene, if one mingles with others who are with unhealthy hands, will prone to diseases. Just by washing our hands frequently, one can stay healthy and keep away from a number of diseases.

Hand washing is the single most effective means of preventing the spread of infections. Many diseases, such as the common cold, influenza (flu), ear infections, strep throat, diarrhea, and other intestinal infections, can be spread by unwashed or improperly washed hands. Industry and commercial business segments are keen on hands hygiene as it will influence the prospects of business as well. Depending upon the activity, several industry verticals are taking measures to ensure hands hygiene in proper importance.

Laundry hygiene

For instance, laundry activity is very s important to maintain hands hygiene standards as microbial and fungal transfer can occur between infected and non-infected clothing. Touching laundry clothes with bare hands is a risky proposition as low temperature washing may not destroy all the germs and fungal spores.

Rayu Priolkar, GM, Advanced Laundry, said: “We do take care of hands hygiene during the laundry operations. Our staff those who involved in direct touch with used clothes, wear hand gloves and masks. However, every time it may not be possible to wear hand gloves. So we use hand cleaning solutions for the protection. Sometimes, we also avoid using handwashing frequently as it causes irritation or allergy. So we prefer to use some chemicals / solutions which don’t harm or cause irritation. I can’t specify the product which we’re using as we keep changing the chemical solutions for hand wash.”

Mission For Health

Dettol, an established brand of Reckitt Benckiser in personal hygiene segment is focusing on hand hygiene concept in the Middle East by promoting educational and awareness campaigns at school level. A number of products under Dettol brand includes anti-bacterial soaps and personal hygiene solutions. Reckitt Benckiser’s hand-washing education programme has been launched under Dettol’s Mission for Health initiative.

Washing your hands frequently, especially after using the toilet and before handling food, helps prevent harmful germs spreading around your home and to you and other people. Over 1.2million school children across the Middle East will receive vital interactive hand-washing education during 2013, in an effort to reduce the spread of illnesses.

The ‘My Health is in my Hands’ campaign, which is part of Dettol’s on-going Mission for Health initiative, was launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), to kick start the biggest ever hand-washing programme, in terms of out-reach, in the Middle East.

Throughout 2012, the Mission for Health hand-washing programme reached 271,800 children across the Middle East, teaching them the basic but essential steps in effective hand-washing to help them, their friends and their families to stay healthy.

Dr Hanan Shaban, Medical Marketing Manager, Reckitt Benckiser, Middle East, said: “This year our aim is to reach at least 1.2 million school children across the Middle East, with simple but fun ways to reduce the spread of germs and viruses that can cause illness, through proper hand-washing techniques. Children will be taught about the importance of hand hygiene through live interactive demonstrations, videos, and take-home kits, so they can share the message with their siblings, parents and friends.”

Research conducted across the UAE and KSA last year revealed that 21 per cent of children missed over three to four days of school due to illness in the last academic year, statistics which could be reduced dramatically with the right hygiene education.

The Arab Hygiene Council together with Dettol’s Mission for Health, is tasked with the duty to share their knowledge and ensure that people know the best possible ways to stay healthy.

Sawsan Al Amery, Nutrition and Health Programme Specialist, Ministry of Education, UAE, said, “learning about health and hygiene is an extremely important part of a child’s education, particularly in a region where it has been shown that the level of recommended hand washing, is well below the global average. When children fall ill they miss days at school as well as time spent playing and doing other activities which are so important to a child’s full development.”

Amal Ali Almehrezi, Head of School Health, Dubai Health Authority, said, “Better Health is one of the strategic goals of Dubai Health Authority and the central objective of all health systems worldwide is to make people healthier. This not only requires access to world-class healthcare services, but also specific measures to prevent diseases from occurring in the first place as well as a focus on prevention as well as cure. Following the basic principles of hand washing has proven results in preventing the spread of infection and the resulting consequences. Infections in our society must be taken seriously and the easiest way for us all to play a part is to ensure that we follow the recommended health and hygiene guidelines.”

Many illnesses such as cold and flu can be easily prevented by taking simple measures such as washing your hands with soap at least six times a day for a minimum of 40 seconds as advised by the World Health Organization. Illness in our society must be taken seriously and the easiest way for us all to play a part is to ensure that we follow the basic principles of hand hygiene.

Dettol’s Mission for Health is a community based initiative which actively helps to improve health and hygiene standards. The Mission focuses on educating and supporting mothers, children and families across the region to make better and more informed choices for their health and hygiene.

Dettol’s Mission for Health School hand-washing programme was designed by RB and Care Direct Middle East in association with MOE, DHA and other leading medical authorities in the Middle East. Care Direct Middle East specialises in the implementation of Health Awareness Campaigns and works closely with local medical authorities for the promotion of Health Education in schools, hospitals and private institutions.

Global Handwashing Day

The Global Handwashing Day (GHD) took place for the first time on October 15, 2008, the date appointed by UN General Assembly in accordance with year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals. Global Handwashing Day, scheduled on October 15th of every year.

Turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit was projected to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. Improving the health and hygiene levels of more than a billion people is one pillar of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to achieve all of its goals in the coming few years.

On October 10, and in line with the 5th anniversary of Global Handwashing Day, a day co-founded by Unilever’s health soap brand ‘Lifebuoy,’ Dubai will break a Guinness World record for gathering people from a minimum of 50 nationalities to wash their hands simultaneously in Dubai, UAE. The event, organized by Lifebuoy and created to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing in saving lives, is in collaboration with Dubai Municipality.

 Washing behaviour

Unilever, world’s leading company with 400 brands spanning 14 categories in the home, personal care and foods products, is giving utmost priority to hand hygiene aspect. The company’s leading health soap Lifebuoy is playing a vital role in promoting hygiene and healthier habits.. With Lifebuoy, the global major aims to change the hand washing behaviour of one billion people by 2015. It’s estimated that about two billion people use Unilever’s products on any given day.

“Over the past two years, Lifebuoy has successfully changed the hand washing behaviour of 48 million people - edging towards its goal to reach one billion people by 2015. With the support of Unilever, Lifebuoy aims to bring ‘Global Hand washing Day’ to a wider audience and influence government policy, to make hygiene behaviour change education part of every school curriculam,” says Vaibhav Kumar, Marketing Director, Personal Care - Unilever Gulf.
For the past three years, Lifebouy has been running a school-oriented health and hygiene initiative. With the support of Dubai Municipality (DM), this 2013 year alone, Lifebuoy aims to reach 500,000 students, aged between 5-12 years, across 600 schools in UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. This campaign was launched in the region in 2010, where 100,000 children were reached in UAE, Oman and Kuwait. Additionally in 2011, Unilever has managed to reach 200,000 in the Gulf region.

“We know from clinical research that handwashing with soap at key occasions can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by up to approximately 45 per cent. The main objective behind this campaign is to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. Handwashing with soap is the single most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARI), as automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Everyone, even the public has a role to play in helping spread the hand washing message,” said Kumar.

How are diseases spread?

As we handle food or touch animals, our hands are prone to bacteria and viruses that cause disease in many ways. Even touching doorknobs, shaking hands, using phone receivers or computer keyboards, and using the toilet will pave the way for bacteria. One can reduce the bacteria and viruses spread by properly washing hands with soap and water.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

The other side of the coin is washing your hands often is itself a disease as well. If you’re the kind of person who keeps on washing your hands every few minutes because of an irrational fear of dirt and germs, then you are suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). On in every 50 adults are suffering from some form of OCD. This is a condition where you get awful thoughts keep on coming into your mind, even when you try to keep them out you have to touch or count things or repeat the same action, like washing hands and checking that the electrical plugs are off, over and over again


The aviation sector is giving significant importance to hand hygiene. For instance, Emirates Airlines is taking several measures on the hands hygiene of it staff. Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) used 11,000 litres of soap, 450 litres of hand sanitizer and 10 million square metres of tissue as it served 130,000 meals a day to passengers. Emirates Flight Catering is more than just about delivering meals to airline passengers but also about delivering the highest standard of hygiene in the world.

At the same time, it is important to be environmentally friendly and not get into the habit of wasting water and paper. Handwashing is a habit that should extend to people’s homes so that their children can also pick up and learn the importance of using a combination of soap and hand sanitizer.

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