Read about a public health forum conducted by Lifebuoy to understand how important proper handwashing is to help prevent common childhood diseases.
“This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands…”
I’m sure all you parents reading this must have sung this song to your kids at some point to get them to wash their hands properly.
But have you ever really thought about why hand-washing is so important, other than in removing visible dirt off our hands?
According to Prof Paul Anantharajah Tambyah, President, Society of Infectious Diseases (Singapore):
“Hand hygiene has been shown across the world to be highly cost effective in reducing common childhood infections. Increasing hand hygiene at home and at school is likely to be a good way to reduce infections and save costs for the family.”
Some of these common childhood infections are:
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
- Respiratory diseases, e.g. Influenza
- Skin Infections
To find out how exactly washing our hands — especially with an anti-bacterial soap such as Lifebuoy — can particularly help in preventing the diseases mentioned above, I recently attended a very informative public health forum organised by Lifebuoy at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Novena).
Lifebuoy held this public forum (“HFMD, Myths and Facts Explained”), to shed light on Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) as well as other common infections and how to prevent them.
If you are wondering why the forum chose to focus on HFMD in particular, it’s because of recent findings revealed by The Lifebuoy Cost of Infection study.
The Lifebuoy Cost of Infection study
This study is the first local study on the economic impact of common childhood infections. HFMD, in particular, stood out as the disease which cost the most.
Here are some of the main points of the study:
- Local families spend upwards of S$150 on average for each episode of childhood infection, and nearly S$1,000 in indirect costs.
- HFMD has the highest opportunity cost and is the only infection that crossed the S$1,000 mark.
- Nearly 6 in 10 children come down with respiratory and skin infections, diarrhoea and HFMD, and they and their parents lost up to 5 days of school and work respectively.
- Up to 7 in 10 mothers worry about the impact on their child’s education if they were absent from school because of an illness.
- The amount paid out to treat per episode of HFMD is again the highest (S$207) compared to other infections.
- 7 in 10 mothers believe they can prevent their children from falling ill, with the most common preventative measure cited as a healthy diet.
- Only about 1 in 10 mothers mentioned regular hand-washing as a precautionary method, though 9 in 10 of them claimed their families do wash their hands with an anti-bacterial soap.
- Only about 7 in 10 children washed their hands before and after food, after play and when they come home from outside.
To find out what the speakers at the forum had to say, please go to the next page…