The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) joined the global community in observing World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) to raise awareness about the importance of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of diseases. World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) is observed annually on 5 May to improve hand hygiene standards at home and the workplace thereby protecting health and care workers and communities from infections and curbing the spread of harmful germs.

The 2024 WHHD theme is “Promoting knowledge and capacity building of health and care workers through innovative and impactful training and education, on infection prevention and control, including hand hygiene”. “It is critical that the health and care workers and the public at large make hand hygiene a non-negotiable routine in their daily lives as a simple, yet powerful tool to safeguard their wellbeing. Through advocacy and education, we can foster these good habits that help prevent the spread of diseases,” emphasises Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko.

Hand hygiene was proven effective as a preventive measure during the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Cholera outbreak. It is important to remember that when practised properly, hand hygiene can help to prevent the spread of viruses including respiratory and diarrheal infections at home and in public settings. Hands should be washed with a soap or alcohol-based sanitiser for at least 20 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands including the palms, back of the hands, between the fingers, back of the fingers, thumbs, fingertips and wrists.

“As we enter the winter months which often sees an increase in cases of flu infections, the message around hand hygiene is even more urgent as a proactive measure to protect ourselves and loved ones to stop the spread of respiratory infections such as influenza,” says Nkomo-Ralehoko.