Proper handwashing still requires proper tools

It’s a message that goes unheeded — at home and abroad.

Research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal found almost 20 percent of men, and 8 percent of women didn’t wash their hands after going to the toilet.

But what’s worse says New Zealand Public Health Association (PHA) Director Dr Gay Keating is that some schools have appalling washroom facilities, and it is often not possible for students to wash and dry their hands properly – even if they want to.

"Sometimes there is no soap, let alone hot water, and children are expected to wash their hands in freezing water, even in the middle of winter. There may be no paper towels, or hand dryers.

"This is a great disincentive to proper hand washing, and pupils who do not wash their hands properly are at greater risk of contracting illnesses themselves, or passing on bugs. They then have to have days off school, which recent educational research has shown often leads to them falling behind in school work. …

“Hand-hygiene is basic to maintaining good health.”

Dr Keating says all schools should provide pupils with soap, warm water and hand-drying facilities.