A national poll by Pharma Dynamics conducted prior to the Covid-19 outbreak indicated things weren’t looking any better.
It showed that only six out of the 10 South African adults who took part in the survey reported washing their hands regularly.
The spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, Nicole Jennings, said the outbreak had had a profound effect on a practice that the World Health Organization and others had tried to instil among communities across the globe for decades.
Jennings added this effort was also published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which researched hand washing practices across 51 countries between 2010 and 2013.
It revealed that on average, only 19% of people washed their hands after going to the bathroom.
The study indicated that as a result, more than 1.6million children under the age of 5 died annually from diarrhoea and pneumonia in primarily poor countries that could have been prevented through proper hand washing.
“We know that hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways in which to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and other pathogens. Since it is an enveloped virus, which has a fatty layer that helps it to survive, hand washing is key.”
Jennings said that there were still millions of South Africans who did not have access to water and hygienic sanitation.
“It will require a sustained effort by all. We therefore urge the public to play their part on World Hand Hygiene Day, whether it be in the form of financial donations, hand sanitisers or soap, to improve general hand hygiene, while making poor communities less vulnerable to the virus.”
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