IN Mzansi, daily you see someone having lunch at a street corner or in the shade under a tree, but did they wash their hands first?

Hand washing is not practised as often as it should be.

Good hand hygiene reduces the transmission of various infectious disease from person to person. This is because hands are the main vehicles for germs to hitch a ride on from person to person.

The main medical purpose of washing hands is to cleanse the hands of bacteria or viruses and chemicals which can cause personal harm or disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, every year millions of people around the world are affected by infectious diseases.

More than half of these infections could be prevented if their caregivers cleaned their hands properly at key moments during patient care.

Dorris Davids, a health promoter at Diepkloof Clinic, said: “The team I work with visits houses, schools and public places all the time. Because we cannot control the environment at those places, it is important to wash our hands all the time.

“Almost all the primary schools where we operate have disposable water tanks so we can teach young ones how hand washing works by demonstration.

“We have regular follow up visits to teach them to wash their hands as a habit.

“We also do handwashing workshops for caregivers who visit patient’s houses to prevent the possibility that they take something unwanted away with them.

“In many cases, the vendors who sell food at street corners use the same bucket of water to wash their hands.

“It is wrong that they don’t have access to running water from taps or portable tanks.

“Hygiene is the most important method to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent all sorts of healthcare-related infections,” Davids said,