A Lagos-based Pathologist and Medical Director of Dalemo Global Diagnostics Clinic in Lagos, Dr. Olakunle Babalola, has urged Nigerians to cultivate the habit of handwashing, as it is one of the most neglected but effective ways to prevent viral infections.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent during the recent World Hand Hygiene Day annually observed on May 5, Babalola expressed concern over the lackadaisical attitude of many Nigerians toward basic hand hygiene.
According to the pathologist, due to ignorance, many fail to adhere to standard procedures of hygiene, which exposes them to a wide range of respiratory and diarrheal infections that could ordinarily be prevented, given the right health attitude.
He said, “Hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
“Preventing germs spread by washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections.” Babalola observed that germs spread from person to person or from surfaces to people, “when they touch their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, when they prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands or when they touch surfaces or objects that have germs on them.”
He further noted that germs could spread “when you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects”.
“You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these (epidemic) times,” he said.
Some other ideal times for handwashing were highlighted by the pathologist below:
“Before, during, and after preparing food; before and after eating food; before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea; before and after treating a cut or wound, because wounds always contain germs.”
“After using the toilet, or after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste, and after touching garbage.”
Babalola, therefore, prescribed simple, proper ways of washing hands to prevent the spread of germs from person to person and within our communities.
“Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold); turn off the tap, and apply soap; lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap; lather the backs of your hands between your fingers and under your nails.
“Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds; rinse your hands well under clean, running water; dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.
“Use hand sanitiser when you can’t use soap and water; you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available,” he said.