x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Group encourages hand washing to fight illnesses

The Global Hygiene Council is urging people in the Middle East to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water and to scrub kitchen surfaces and toilets with disinfectants to ward off infectious diseases.

DUBAI // A group that seeks to reduce the spread of infectious diseases yesterday urged people in the Middle East to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, and to scrub kitchen surfaces and toilets with disinfectants.

The Global Hygiene Council revealed the findings of its 2011 International Dettol HABIT Study (Hygiene: Attitudes, Behaviour, Insight and Traits) yesterday to give people the tools they need to prevent illnesses caused by germs.

Fewer than 40 per cent of those surveyed in the Middle East have good household hygiene habits, and that nearly half practice sound personal hygiene.

Good hygiene habits can reduce the spread of infectious diseases, ranging from the common cold to swine flu, they said.

“The home unfortunately is not a safe area as it were in the point of view of bacteria or viruses... particularly so if the home has a number of small children,” said John Oxford, a professor of virology at St Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK, and the chairman of the council. “Understanding what drives hygiene behaviour is very valuable. Teach your children good manners and build hygiene into your everyday routine.”

The council conducted the study in 12 countries around the world with data from the Middle East compiled from Dubai and Saudi Arabia through face-to-face interviews. Results of the 1,000 interviews showed that 38.5 per cent practice good household hygiene.

“I want the hygiene level to be increased around the world... we have to set our sights at 95 per cent by making hygiene habitual,” Prof Oxford said. “The most important factor is that people who practice handwashing automatically are over ten times more hygienic.”

The study showed that 49.6 per cent of individuals surveyed in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have sound personal hygiene, meaning they wash their hands with soap five or more times a day. People who are older than 55 tend to have better personal hygiene than people between ages 16 and 24, the study showed.