Handwashing hygiene norms see stricter regulation in the US to reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections or HAIs Image Credit: Shutterstock

Hand hygiene is considered an important measure to prevent the transmission of pathogens in healthcare facilities and it has generally been proven that improving hand hygiene compliance significantly reduces healthcare-acquired infections. Accordingly, hand hygiene has been recommended as an important strategy to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in hospitals.

Monitoring hand hygiene compliance is considered a critical aspect of an effective hand hygiene programme. Data obtained can be used to provide healthcare workers with feedback, to identify areas within the hospital with poor hand hygiene compliance, and to evaluate the impact of targeted interventions. Gathering infection prevention data in the current environment may be challenging for most healthcare facilities with resources being diverted to Covid-19 outbreak management. Process measures such as the direct observation of hand hygiene compliance may also be compromised. Hospitals with automated hand hygiene monitoring systems have an advantage during this pandemic with the ability to quickly gather robust hand hygiene data with minimal investment of personnel time.

Effects of this pandemic in the US are unprecedented with declarations of states of emergency, school closures, postponement of elective surgeries and procedures, visitor restrictions, restaurant closings, and stay-at-home quarantine orders. School closures have attracted much attention, and it has been estimated that those working in healthcare settings are among those with the highest childcare obligations in the US with 28.5 per cent of the healthcare workforce needing to provide care for children aged 3-12 years.

Hand hygiene practices are essential to reducing the spread of healthcare associated infections or HAIs. Healthcare personnel across the globe are being held accountable for their hand hygiene practices to prevent transmission of infection, and healthcare institutions are facing increasing regulation and hand hygiene mandates while being challenged with economic consequences of failing to meet those mandates.

In the UAE, and as reported by Gulf News, most dermatologists feel that in the past nine months more hand sanitisers and handwashes have been used by people in comparison to what were regular consumption figures in the past ten years, a statistic that is also leading to rise in reports of skin allergies. However, doctors are quick to mention that the safe and adequate use of handwashes will ensure that skin allergies are generally kept at bay.

“It’s the high percentage of alcohol, the kind of fragrance used and the paraben in commonly-available sanitisers that are triggering this kind of allergic dermatitis,” says Dr Nameer Abdul Majeed, specialist dermatologist at Aster Clinic, Al Qusais, while speaking to Gulf News.

“In fact, the World Health Organisation has issued guidelines on how to handle such skin allergies in its Multimodal Hand Hygiene Improvement Strategy toolkit.”

In this region, there is no better time to implement strict infection control programmes to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. Comprehensive infection prevention programmes must address a range of important interventions, including cleaning, disinfection, sterilisation, infection monitoring, antibiotic stewardship, and isolation and control measures. And, as the single most important measure to prevent infection, hand hygiene continues to be the cornerstone of infection prevention activities.

What’s it all about, then?

Global Handwashing Day serves as a yearly reminder that handwashing with soap and water is one of the best steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The observance was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008.

WHO-compliant handwashes from Dabur

How has Dabur met the needs of customers in the UAE during the pandemic through its range of hygiene products, specifically hand sanitisers? What has it done differently to make the brand stand out against the competition?

Rohit Jaiswal, COO, Dabur International Image Credit: Supplied

Dabur recognised the increased demand for hand sanitisers in early March and geared up its entire operations to service the demand by producing WHO compliant sanitisers in our factory. Our range of sanitisers has been tested in Government approved labs to kill 99.9 per cent bacteria and viruses and have been registered across the GCC, EU and USFDA to ensure global compliance. Enriched with aloe vera and olive, it ensures safe protected hands at all times.