Are you a hygiene hero?

 Are you a hygiene hero?

Saurabh Tankha

It is perhaps carelessness and lack of awareness on our part that has been the major deterrent in our staying healthy and safe. Why would otherwise we need the Prime Minister to launch Mission Swachh Bharat for our benefit? Why should he be worried about our cleanliness, our welfare and our safety? Why can’t we be mature enough to take care of ourselves? Why can’t we just follow the basics, stay aware, be careful and lead a happy life.

Talking of awareness or the lack of it. Let us be honest and raise our hands to commit that none of us were aware that today is World Hand Hygiene Day. At least, I wasn’t. Not until the lunch hour, at least. Till I was informed about a webinar being organised by ASSOCHAM on World Hand Hygiene Day titled Mission Swachh Bharat: Celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day.

With Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS, MoHFW as the chief guest and Dr Girdhar Gyani, director general, Association of Healthcare Providers (India), Aditya Berlia, co-founder & pro-chancellor, Apeejay Stya University and Ravi Bhatnagar, director – External Affairs and Partnerships Asia Middle East and South Africa, Reckitt Benckiser as the panelists, the session threw light on the importance of hand hygiene, mandatory not only in these times of Covid-19 pandemic but in our daily lives too. Wasn’t how to maintain hygiene one of the lessons we studied back in the nursery or was it the KG class?

After the formal introductions with the panelists and the main participants, the host for the evening Cmdr Navneet Bali invited Dr Gyani who said that hand hygiene is important primarily in healthcare sector as two of the leading causes of medical errors leading to morbidity or mortality are Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) and Medication Errors. “One of 25 patients acquire HAI during hospital care and nearly 9% die due to this infection,” Dr Gyani shared. He added that the five moments of hand hygiene for a healthcare worker including doctors are before touching a patient, before cleaning or aseptic procedure, after body fluid exposure risk, after touching a patient and after touching patient’s surroundings.

From Dr Gyani, the virtual mic shifted to Aditya Berlia who presented a PPT on handwashing and Swachh Bharat for economic growth and transformation. “Just imagine the impact of diseases and pandemics like Covid-19. Loss of working days, loss of productive time, impact on family as caregivers also have to reduce or curtail economic activities, mental stress from being ill or watching a loved one being ill and dealing with financial costs as well as anxiety over future illnesses that lead to poor financial planning and decisions. Thus, low people productivity keeps wages low and impacts GDP growth, makes Indian firms and Indian economy uncompetitive and leads to unemployment as companies invest more in machines rather than on hiring people. Therefore, the best way to increase wealth and prosperity is through productivity of people,” explained Berlia. Valid points to the core.

Next up was Ravi Bhatnagar who explained how one can turn into a Hygiene Hero? “My simple solution is to do a deed for someone and ask him, in turn, to do it to another one. This way, the chain multiplies and the maximum number of people benefit from it,” shared Bhatnagar. He added that when the first lockdown was announced, he, along with 50 of his biker friends, went around Delhi-NCR distributing hygiene kits. “The idea was to spread the message of staying safe. We, at Reckitt Benckiser, are planning to create Hygiene Heroes from the students of each of the nine lakh schools in the country,” he informed, adding there is a hero in each one of us, we just need to take him or her out.

The MoS, MoHFW, Ashwini Kumar Choubey congratulated the effort of ASSOCHAM in creating awareness about Hand Hygiene and its importance in our lives. “Apart from its importance, it is important that we inspire people to wash hands and maintain hygiene for a Swachh Bharat,” he said.


At the end of the webinar, host Cmdr Bali presented a selection of paintings of the participants of the Poster Competition organised by ASSOCHAM on the subject of Hand Hygiene. The webinar was also attended by ASSOCHAM secretary general Deepak Sood and senior vice-president Vineet Agarwal. Before winding up for the evening, Sood threw light on an important aspect. “Even as we concentrate on hand hygiene, we should also stay aware on the importance of water all this while as the two go, literally, hand-in-hand,” he ended.


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