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Thumbs up for Clean Hands Campaign 7 March 2007

The Public Health Directorate is launching a public information campaign urging people to wash and dry their hands regularly to help prevent the spread of communicable infections such as common cold and influenza. The campaign is part of the communications plan which the Public Health Directorate has developed in preparation for an expected Influenza pandemic.

The campaign, named ‘Thumbs Up for Clean Hands’, is a back to basics message, stressing that regular and proper hand hygiene can have a significant effect on preventing serious infections with up to 50% of infections being preventable by washing and drying hands thoroughly and regularly.

A programme of activities has been arranged over several weeks for this public information campaign, including the distribution of posters and information leaflets explaining the correct technique for hand washing, and effective measures for containing coughs. ‘Thumbs Up for Clean Hands’ roadshows will be at Noble’s and Ramsey and District Cottage Hospitals during the week of the 5th March, and around the Island between 12.00 pm and 5.00 pm in the following locations:

Monday5th MarchRamseyShoprite 
Tuesday6th MarchPort ErinShoprite 
Wednesday7th MarchDouglasLittle SwitzerlandShoprite
Thursday8th MarchDouglasChester StreetShoprite
Friday9th MarchDouglasStrand Centre  

Margaret Kermode, Health Protection Nurse, explained,

“On a daily basis we touch things which have been handled by different people, such as toilets, telephones, money, cash machines, various surfaces and door handles. Other people’s germs build up on these surfaces, and the simplest way of ensuring that a person is not harmed by these is by washing their hands. This can be achieved by wetting the hands, applying soap and rubbing all areas of the hands, rinsing away the soap, then drying gently and thoroughly with paper or clean cloth towel.”

The ‘Thumbs Up for Clean Hands’ Campaign will be launched on Monday the 5th March.

Notes:

The importance of clean hands in food preparation and the prevention of food poisoning is well known. However, schools, nurseries and the workplace are settings where contaminated hands can cause outbreaks of infection and good hand hygiene reduces this hazard greatly. Studies have shown that where effective hand hygiene programmes are in place within schools and workplaces, sickness absence is reduced. In hospitals and healthcare settings, evidence has shown that good hand hygiene significantly reduces the number of healthcare-acquired infections.

In 2005, a survey commissioned by the Health Protection Agency found that just under one third of people considered regular hand-washing as the most effective way to reduce the spread of common infections. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) ranked washing their hands after using the toilet as the most effective method of reducing the spread of infections; however, only 30% remembered to wash their hands after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing, and just 23% after handling money.

On a daily basis we come across germs, both bacteria and viruses, which may easily be spread through direct contact from person to person, by unwashed hands or indirectly through contaminated objects in our environment. Illnesses, which can be spread in this way, include diarrhoea and vomiting, and respiratory infections such as influenza, MRSA and serious infections such as meningitis.

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