Dr Lourda Geoghegan, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “This year we decided to focus on the importance of good hand hygiene for everyone, so we have come to a shopping centre to remind the general public to ‘clean your hands’.
“Everyone can play their part in preventing the spread of infections by washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet.”
The PHA is advising the public that by following the below steps everyone can ensure they have clean hands:
• wet hands with warm water;
• apply enough soap to cover the surface of the hands;
• rub hands together thoroughly applying the soap to all areas including the backs of the hands and between the fingers;
• rinse hands with water;
• dry hands thoroughly;
• effective hand washing should take less than a minute.
Anti-bacterial gels and wipes are not a substitute for washing hands with soap and water – as gels and wipes may be unable to remove contamination in the way that running water can. However, they may be useful if hand-washing facilities are not available.
PHA is supporting the World Health Organisation in its global campaign to improve and sustain excellent levels of hand hygiene. The campaign focuses on reducing infections by emphasising the vital role played by healthcare workers and members of the public in keeping hand hygiene a top priority.
With regard to healthcare settings Dr Geoghegan, continued: “PHA continues to work with Health and Social Care Trusts, primary care, and residential and nursing homes to promote excellence in hand hygiene across all health and social care settings. Effective hand washing is one of the most important tools in preventing many illnesses. Clean hands are vital in controlling the spread of healthcare infections, as well as other illnesses such as food poisoning and seasonal ‘flu.
“It is the collective responsibility of everyone – healthcare workers and the general public – to be proactive in preventing the spread of infection. The simple act of cleaning your hands is paramount in ensuring clean, safe healthcare. I would urge everyone to follow good hand hygiene practices, whether in a healthcare environment or in the home.”
Public Health Agency