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Evidence shows everyday hygiene is essential to help prevent the spread of infections

According to a new Position Paper published in the American Journal of Infection Control online, improved everyday hygiene practices, such as handwashing, can help to significantly reduce the risk of common infections. Evidence shows risk reduction can be up to 50%. With the increased hygiene efforts being deployed to delay the spread of COVID-19, the Global Hygiene Council’s (GHC) public health experts are now calling for even greater attention to improved hygiene behaviour in homes and communities to help reduce the spread of infection.

This Position Papers, developed on behalf of the GHC, explores evidence that following everyday hygiene measures in homes and community settings (including workplaces, universities, schools, nurseries, on public transport and during shopping and leisure activities) can play a vital role in containing and delaying the threat from infectious microorganisms. Multiple studies demonstrate that harmful bacteria and viruses can be transferred from an infected individual to other people via hands and frequently touched surfaces and can survive in enough numbers to cause an infection.

Regular handwashing and surface disinfection are key hygiene measures that can help reduce the levels of microorganisms on hands and frequently touched surfaces. Adopting a hygienic approach in our homes and everyday lives offers a way to maximise protection against infection, at the times and places where there is the greatest risk of transmission. 

According to the lead author, Jean-Yves Maillard, Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, at Cardiff University; “In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and evidence presented in this Paper, it is more urgent than ever for us all to recognise the role of community hygiene to minimise the spread of infections.  This also helps to reduce the consumption of antibiotics and helps the fight against antimicrobial resistance.”

At this time of increased concern, the Global Hygiene Council is calling for health agencies and healthcare professionals to recognise the importance of advising the public of the importance of hygiene in their home and community settings to minimise the spread of infections.

 

References:

1Curtis V, Cairncross S. Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. Lancet Infect Dis. May 2003; 3 (5): 275-81

2.Staniford LJ, Schmidtke KA. A systematic review of hand-hygiene and environmental-disinfection interventions in settings with children. BMC Public Health 20, 195 (2020). Available at: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-8301-0

3 International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene. Containing the burden of infectious diseases is everyone’s responsibility. October 2018. Available from: https://www.ifh-homehygiene.org/sites/default/files/publications/IFH%20White%20Paper-10-18.pdf  Accessed April 6, 2020.