Hygiene Council

Experts say that results of a global survey on Public Attitudes towards Hygiene show that too many people are ignoring basic practices in the home and are therefore exposing themselves unnecessarily to the risk of infection.

The results come from “Dettol & Lizol – Global Hygiene Survey” – done with more than 10,000 people in 10 countries. This survey is part of a global effort by the Hygiene Council to educate the public about the importance of hygiene for family wellness. Comprised of leading scientists from around the globe, the Council works to dispel myths about germs and educate consumers about basic hygiene practices.

The Dettol & Lizol – Global Hygiene Survey brings out the startling fact that “Hygiene advice is understood, yet ignored” by large sections of the general populace. Regular handwashing was recognised as an effective way of preventing the spread of germs in the home by the majority of Australians, Canadians, Germans, South Africans, Americans and British; however, less than a third of Indians, Saudi Arabians and Italians recognised this as an important infection control measure.

Overall, most countries recognised the need for hand washing before eating/handling food and after having been to the toilet but even then, a whopping 48% of Indians said they don't wash hands properly after coughing or sneezing and nearly a fourth (21%) said they do not do so before eating or before handling food and after handling pets or . In fact 13% said they do not wash properly after using the toilet!

The Survey showed that 52% Indian’s thought that toilet basin was the site where most germs reside in the home and only 7% selected door handles, 17% selected kitchen surfaces and 10% selected germs on your hands. In reality most germs can be found on surfaces such as light switches, telephone receivers and television remote controls.

Dirty laundry was generally overlooked as a reservoir for germs in the home; with only 7% Indian respondents viewed it as an area where germs may be located.

As part of a continuing global initiative aimed at improving good hygiene practice in the home and community, as a group of world experts, The Hygiene Council, have agreed on a set of recommendations for use by the public, namely ‘thorough and timely hand washing, targeted surface disinfection and laundry sanitisation are key measures that all individuals should use to help reduce the spread of infections in the home and the community’.

Levels of hygiene peaked prior to the second world-war and with the increasing use of antibiotics the culture and hygiene practice changed. However it is apparent that in the 21st century hygiene practices in the home, community and in hospitals do not meet the higher standards observed with previous generations.

“Data show that the microbial count on hands is reduced by handwashing. Thus, hand washing is a simple tool which can significantly help to protect us against the unknown infection threats. Learn the steps for effective hand washing and teach them to your children. Children learn quickly and will observe good hand hygiene if they see their parents doing the same!” comments Dr. Sandip K. Ray, Immediate Past Secretary General and Chairman of Academic Committee, Indian Public health Association/ Prof of Community Medicine Kaja Bandanwaj Institute of Medical Sciences, Gulbarga

There is evidently a need to target the public with hygiene practice communications, promoting hygiene awareness and good hygiene practice in the community. There is also a need to focus on educating children about good hygiene practices as children are a significant reservoir for infection. Effective hygiene plays an important role in the scheme of infection prevention.

The Hygiene Council is an initiative bringing together leading global experts in the field of microbiology, virology, infectious diseases, immunology, and public health. The aim is to revisit current hygiene practices

The Hygiene Council’s initial aim was to revisit current hygiene practices in order to offer realistic recommendations to the public on the importance of hygiene in the home and community.

At their inaugural meeting, the Hygiene Council discussed aspects of hygiene practice in both developed and developing nations, measures of prevention and control of avian and pandemic influenza, hygiene measures in the home, the role of disinfectants, and protection from micro-organisms.

If programmes to prevent infection are to be effective it is essential to identify those activities where the risk of picking up an infection is high. While behavioural changes occur over time, the Council recognise the need to offer recommendations on good hygiene practice now and for the future.

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