The Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, is advocating hand washing to be a habit to help sustain the health gains made from the practice.
She said beyond being a protocol strongly enforced during the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, it was important to sustain that habit to also chalk up more successes in preventing the outbreak of cholera.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Appiah said, “It is important for us to make hand washing a habit beyond the COVID-19; it is an intervention that has also seen the steady decline in the cases of some communicable diseases”.
The NPC Executive Director in the interview said her call stemmed from the observation that people had abandoned the hand washing protocol because COVID-19 was no longer a threat.
“It is unfortunate that the general public have already stopped washing their hands with soap under running water frequently when they go out to public events, simply because the cases of COVID-19 have reduced.
The practice is much more beyond being a protocol for COVID-19.
“Hand washing to a very large extent helps to prevent many other threats to one’s well-being,” she stressed.
Dr Appiah said washing the hands frequently had protected the country from communicable diseases such as cholera, emphasising that the country’s ability to record a zero case of the disease during the outbreak of COVID-19 was due to the habit of hand washing adopted as an intervention.
“Cholera had recorded its worst outbreaks in 2014 with eight out of 10 regions being affected in the country, now the country has not recorded any case of cholera since 2020.
“This is, to an extent, the education for people to make hand washing a habit and also keep their environment more hygienic,” she said.
She said given how cholera and other related diseases such as diarrhoea spread, it was important for people to practise hand washing to maintain the current situation, stressing that it was more about actions and not talks or intentions.
“We have been able to get rid of cholera because of hand washing.
If we do the right thing, we get the right results.
These diseases don't respond to our intentions but what we do and the outcomes that matter,” she said.
Dr Appiah said the country’s ability to record a zero case of cholera was an advantage and explained that until the pandemic struck in 2019, hand washing was not a practice that most people gave much thought to.
“However, the pandemic shone light on the importance of hand washing, and the practice does not cause any inconvenience but rather an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent the spread of diseases and save lives.
The NPC Executive Director called for the provision of hand washing facilities at the entrances of institutions, organisations and all other public places to make it more convenient for people to wash their hands when they show up at those places.
“Just as we were able to ensure that people washed their hands when they visited our place, we should provide facilities for hand washing and encourage ourselves to make hand washing a habit.
We should not do it only when it is convenient.
It is the right thing to do,” Dr Appiah said.