From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for regular handwashing and other safe hygiene practices. But long before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted socioeconomic activities across the world in 2020, there had been consistent campaigns for regular handwashing practices as preventive measures against germs and other-disease causing agents.
Medical professionals, science and other evidence pointed to the fact that poor personal and environmental hygiene breeds disease causative agents, hence, the campaign for improved hygiene as a gateway to healthy living.
However, from the beginning of the campaign against COVID-19 in late 2019, a research by medical professionals, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), indicated that regular handwashing with soap for a good number of minutes was an essential step against COVID-19 and other diseases.
Medical books also confirmed that someone’s chances of contracting diseases, particularly the ones caused by bacteria, fungi, and others in that class, were reduced by significant percentage, if people engaged in regular handwashing with soap and water.
United Nations position
United Nation agencies, notably, the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO, confirmed that regular handwashing with soap, accompanied by other safe hygiene practices, reduces the chances of contracting disease/ailments by up to 40 per cent.
The UN and partners often use the global annual Handwashing Day, commemorated every October 15, to amplify the importance of handwashing, educating and exposing the world to the importance of regular handwashing and steps to properly do that to achieve the desired result.
UNICEF Communication for Development specialist, Elizabeth Onitolo, in a presentation during a recent media session in Yola, Adamawa State, said regular handwashing with soap removes germs and helps prevent infections.
She said that UN agencies have been in the vanguard of campaigns for regular handwashing and intensified the campaign at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic through different platforms, including the voices of renowned community and religious leaders.
UN agencies and partners are also implementing Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote safe hygiene and other healthy lifestyle.
WASH promotes access to healthy and safe water, sanitation and improved hygiene. The programme works on long-term prevention and control measures for improving health, reducing poverty, and improving socio-economic development as well as responding to global emergencies and outbreaks of life-threatening illnesses.
Dangers of dirty hands
Hands are, undoubtedly, the closest to the body’s five sense organs, notably, the mouth, ears, nose, eyes and the skin. People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it. So, germs on dirty hands get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, and could lead to unexpected sickness.
Germs from unwashed hands easily get into foods and drinks either during preparation or consumption. They multiply in some types of foods or drinks under certain conditions and make people sick.
The germs can also be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands, hence the need for alcohol-based surface wipes for regular use on public items.
Removing germs through handwashing helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Efficacy and effectiveness of wipes
Alcohol-based wipes have proven to be significantly effective in complementing alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other measures in promoting safe hygiene and fight against ailments/diseases. It is recommended that the wipes are used to disinfect surfaces in public places such as hotels, airports, schools, corporate offices, among others.
Managing director, Safter Mobo Nigeria Limited, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokike, in an interaction with Daily Sun, insisted that wipes must have content that makes them effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Unfortunately, he said, most of the wipes in circulation in Nigeria are low in quality, and the products contain less alcohol and other contents that would make them effective against disease-causing agents.
He made reference to recently launched KilRox alcohol disinfecting wipes, which, he said, have proven to be effective as regards surface disinfection. He was, however, impressed with the level of consciousness that COVID-19 brought about in handwashing and safe hygiene in Nigeria. He was also impressed with how Nigerians embraced the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, stressing that surface wipes such as KilRox disinfectant should be made compulsory for use in all public places to complement hand sanitizers.
He said: “A wipe must be a bleach-free formula that kills 99.9 per cent of virus, bacteria and fungi, including cold and flu viruses, before it could be effective. KilRox alcohol disinfecting wipes were prepared to complement the ffort of Nigerians to keep safe and live safely.
“Discerning Nigerian consumers have adapted to the immeasurable benefits of using the wipes to disinfect their hands, smartphones, ATM machines, doorknobs, car interior surfaces, office tables and computers, saloon equipment, microphones, and a reliable assurance in germ-infected surroundings.”
Nwokike explained that alcohol, which is one of the active ingredients of KilRox wipes, kills germs by denaturing the outer proteins of microbes and dissolving their membranes. He added that, KilRox wipes are made with bleach-free formula that kills 99.9 per cent of virus, bacteria and fungi, including cold and flu viruses.
He confirmed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) approved and confirmed the wipes suitable for used in hospitals, athletic facilities like stadiums, gyms, locker rooms; hospitality facilities such as hotels, restaurants, et cetera.