US’s National Hand Washing Awareness Week

The National Hand Washing Awareness Week of US is observed from 1st to 7th of December. Hand hygiene is a vital part of health care. It was declared so by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the 1980s. The WHO had also issued a Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care. Ignaz Semmelweiz, a Hungarian doctor from the 1800s, is considered as the father of hand hygiene. The concept that disease can spread through transference of microbes/ pathogens was proposed by Louis Pasteur only in the 1860s. Prior to the acceptance of the germ theory, hand washing was not practiced by the physicians. Semmelweiz was the first to identify this as the reason for high mortality in his hospital. He brought in the practice of washing hands with chlorine. In the present times, WHO’s 5 step hand washing method is standard protocol among healthcare workers: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry.