Education for prevention: hand washing has to be learned

Parents know how difficult it can be to teach their offspring to wash their hands and to encourage their little ones to thoroughly clean dirty fingers. It is well known that hygiene measures protect against infection, and the effect was once again confirmed during the corona pandemic. A pre-study now highlights that hygiene education in primary schools must be promoted in order to improve behavior around hand washing and to reduce the transmission of infections in the future as well. She was im Open-Access-Journal BMC Public Health published.

Half fewer infections

Washing hands in the most risky situations is a proven and cost-effective way to reduce common infections by up to 50 percent. Research from University College London shows a decline in compliance with hand washing regulations: 44 percent of adults always washed their hands with soap and water in July 2021. At the end of 2020 it was 55 percent.

Survey shows how seldom primary school children use soap

Urban facilities such as schools offer numerous opportunities for infection to spread, but unfortunately many schools do not adequately teach the benefits of hygiene to prevent disease. A survey conducted by the Global Hygiene Council highlights the need for better education about hand hygiene among primary school children. 40 percent of elementary school children do not always use soap to wash their hands and 47 percent mistakenly believe that clean-looking hands are germ-free.

Education urgently needed

A new study published in BMC Public Health highlights that the time has come to advance hygiene education in elementary schools to improve hand-washing behavior and reduce the transmission of infections.

Lead author Kelly Schmidtke of Warwick Medical School in the UK explains, “Behavioral interventions help change people’s immediate behavior for the better while encouraging long-term habit formation. Improving children’s hand hygiene education helps reduce absenteeism in schools and and absences in the working hours of parents and teachers are reduced. “

Washing instructions for children

Even the general one Accident insurance company Auva, hygiene is a concern. She explains to children in steps how to wash their hands properly. The motto: Pitsche Patsche Putsche, this is how the virus slide works:

First be careful that all fingers get wet
a little soap in hand, then bacteria and viruses are really banished.
And now make foam, a lot, a dream and wash:
Pitsche Patsche – palm and back of the hand
Pitsche Patsche – fingers and thumbs
Pit bullshit – don’t forget your fingertips, this will eat away the viruses.
With warm water they slide away to a safe place
now dry off and 1,2,3 my hands are clean again, oh how fine!

Investment for the future

The British health experts meanwhile warn of an impending “triple threat” from seasonal viruses, a renewed increase in the corona numbers and peak numbers of seasonal flu and infections with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children. It is important to improve hand washing behavior to reduce the spread of infection.

As new infectious diseases are particularly likely to break out in the years up to 2030, it is of vital importance that hygiene education in schools is used to protect the health of future generations.

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