by James Kamuye Kataru

Before an outbreak of infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and lately COVID-19, most people didn’t consider hand -washing a very important and healthy exercise in their lives. In most rural communities, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to learn better ways to wash their hands at all times as an important step to stopping the spread of the disease. Homes are dotted with Jerrycan of water and soap placed strategically for all visitors to access and wash their hands before entering the house. In some homes, it’s considered rude for a visitor to walk in without washing their hands with water and soap provided at the entrance.

A hand-washing demonstration by Emalindi miners self-help group member in Khwisero constituency Kakamega County.  Twenty members of the gold miners group were trained on proper hand washing using SAWBO animation videos on Monday September 21st 2020. The training observed all Kenya government and international rules on COVID-19 to maintain safety. Picture by Kataru Concepts.

In towns, all shopping malls, groceries, and other shops have provided water and soap at their entrance for customers to wash their hands before buying. Governments, private entities, and whole communities have cooperated in educating masses on hand-washing, distributed water tanks, soaps, and sanitizers to institutions, public places, and families in an effort to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. The hand-washing frenzy proves a nation can decide to stay clean, safe and healthy, save for one question; “Is the hand-washing exercise done as per the WHO and Kenya government regulations?”

According to Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), the hand washing exercise goes beyond a Jerrycan of water and soap. It’s about “proper hand washing” as captured in the video below;


Basically, proper hand-washing can stop the spread of germs and diseases. Touching our faces, mouth, nose and eyes with dirty hands can cause bacteria, viruses, fungi and other harmful chemical compounds to enter our bodies. Touching dirty surfaces also transfers these organisms to our hands, which make it important to frequently wash our hands. It is always recommended to wash our hands;

1.        After using public transport.

2.        After visiting public places like shopping malls.

3.        After touching raw meat.

4.        After getting an open cut or wound.

5.        After handling waste of all nature.

6.        After doing farm work.

7.        After changing diapers or cleaning a child whose just used the toilet.

8.        Before and after eating.

9.        After using the toilet.

10.      After touching pets and handling animals.

11.      After a cough or sneeze.

12.      When arriving home from safari.

13.      After caring for someone who is sick/ill.

14.      Before touching your eyes, mouth or nose

There is a general argument as to the best way to wash hands. According to the above video, a hand-washing exercise needs to be thorough, take reasonable time, and with use the right items. It’s not a matter of just applying soap on your hands and scrubbing then rinsing, no, it goes beyond that as outlined below;

1.        You’ll need clean running water, or a bucket of clean water to wet and rinse your hands.

2.        Thoroughly scrub your wet hands together with soap.

3.        Be sure to get abundant foam between your fingers, palms, back of hands and nails.

4.        If possible, use a small brush to scrub beneath your nails.

5.        Scrub thoroughly for 20 to 40 seconds before rinsing. (This is the point most hand-washers have been missing.)

6.        If you are using a public wash station, dry your hands with air blowers or disposable paper towels, not wet, greasy towels that have been used by other people. If at home, change towels regularly to ensure they are dry and clean.

7.        Finally, use disposable towels to close public water taps and to open public bathroom doors.

Washing our hands regularly helps keeps us safe from infections. It can stop the spread of germs when preparing foods, touching surfaces, and shaking hands. This is a good way of keeping our communities safe and healthy.

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