Wash Those Hands!

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Hand washing and proper hygiene is the #1 prevention of communicable diseases.  Most bacteria, viruses, and parasites that people contract are through contact.  It is estimated that on each square centimeter of your skin there are 1,500 bacteria!  Without proper hygiene, millions of bacteria are able to travel from one individual to another causing colds, skin infections, and even death.  A growing concern is the increase in antibiotic-resistant germs.  One rapidly growing bacteria is MRSA – Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.  This bacteria has learned to adapt and become resistant to certain antibiotics.  MRSA was estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2005) to have caused 94,000 invasive life-threatening infections and close to 19,000 deaths (more than AIDS).  This nasty bacteria is also responsible for the “flesh-eating” disease!

So, how can we can protect myself and our families from these germs?  The answer is to practice proper hygiene.  One of Vive Harambee!’s mission is to increase awareness in the communities that we serve by educating individuals in the importance of hygiene and the correct ways of hand washing.

Keeping your hands clean.


As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, germs accumulate on the hands.  In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.


  • Preparing food
  • Eating
  • Treating wounds or giving medicine
  • Touching a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses


  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet
  • Changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds
  • Touching a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage or something that could be contaminated


  • It’s generally best to wash your hands with soap and water.  Follow these simple steps:
  • Wet your hands with running water
  • Apply liquid, bar or powdered soap
  • Lather well
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.  remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well
  • Dry your hands with a clean or dispensable towel or air dryer
  • If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet

Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap.  Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents – making it harder to kill these germs in the future.

About Vive Harambee!

Vive Harambee! is a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to impacting the lives of people in developing nations by providing them access to clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education.
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