Participants of various nationalities wash their hands simultaneously to set a world Guinness record to mark Global Handwashing Day at Atlantis The Palm. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Washing your hands with soap is more effective against the transmission of infections than using vaccinations, stressed a senior municipality official on Tuesday.

“According to international surveys, 80 per cent of the diseases are transmitted through touching people in unhygienic conditions. People are not aware of the importance of hand washing when mingling with others, and we can keep away from a number of diseases by simply washing our hands with soap,” said Redha Hassan Salman, director of the Public Health Department at Dubai Municipality.

Speaking alongside the fifth anniversary of Global Handwashing Day, launched by Lifebuoy in collaboration with Dubai Municipality under the title ‘Hands for Hygiene,’ Salman pointed out that the message is being sent to residents and people visiting, “and as we are now at the start of the flu season and the Haj season, it is very important for people of all ages to stop their bad habits of not washing their hands.”

In celebration of Global Handwashing Day, Lifebuoy and Dubai Municipality on Tuesday set a new Guinness world record with the highest number of people from different nationalities — 72 — to wash their hands simultaneously.

More than 200 people gathered at the Asateer Tent at Atlantis, The Palm, and washed their hands for a complete minute at a designated area that was equipped with 17 sinks, each containing 12 taps.

The event was aimed at promoting how a simple habit such as washing hands at key moments can prevent diseases spreading and lower deaths around the world.

“Unfortunately, more than 1.1 million children die yearly due to hygiene related diseases. Hand washing with soap at key moments can reduce this number to half and is recognised to be the simplest yet most efficient method to reduce disease infections,” said Arijit Ghose, managing director for Unilever Gulf.

With the collaboration of the municipality during 2012, Lifebuoy aims to reach 500,000 students aged between 5-11, across 600 schools in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.

In 2010, the collaborators spread the message to 100,000 students, which then rose to 200,000 in 2011, and aims to reach two million students in the Gulf by 2020.