Washing hands could save lives

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am


Saturday was Global Handwashing Day, and the Hong Kong Committee for Unicef used the occasion to remind people of the healthy habit.

Washing hands with soap before eating or handling food and after using the bathroom is a good way to fight childhood infections, which are entering their peak season now.

In recent years, there have been frequent outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and enterovirus infections. Enteroviruses can cause diseases such as polio or serious infections of the heart or brain.

The Centre for Health Protection says HFMD may reach a peak between October and December.

Unicef says washing hands can reduce diarrhoea cases by nearly 40 per cent and respiratory infections by 23 per cent.

'Diseases can spread extremely fast in crowded places like Hong Kong,' Irene Chan Man-tuen, Unicef's local chief executive, says. 'Thus, developing an ingrained habit of proper hand washing is of great importance and urgency.'

Unicef China official Yang Zhenbo taught student leaders from 10 secondary schools in Hong Kong how to wash their hands properly.

The students then spread the message to 20 kindergartens across the city.