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Secret of handwashing

Handwashing simply means getting your hands wet under tap water, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. Handwashing can be a matter of profession when you take it seriously. Basically there are two ways of securing hand hygiene: one by liquid soap and water, and the other by alcohol-based hand-rub. With liquid soap and water It is advised to clean hands with liquid soap and water when hands are visibly dirty or visibly soiled with blood and body fluid, after using the toilet or changing the diapers. Steps:(i) Wet hands under running water.(ii) Apply liquid soap and rub hands together to make a soapy lather.(iii) Away from the running water, rub hands according to the 7 steps of hand hygiene technique for at least 20 seconds. Do not rinse off the soap while rubbing.(iv) Rinse hands thoroughly under running water.(v) Dry hands thoroughly with either a clean cotton towel or a paper towel.(vi) The cleaned hands should not touch the water tap directly again. For example: using a paper towel to wrap the faucet before turn it off. With alcohol-based handrub When hands are not visibly soiled, hand hygiene with 70-80% alcohol-based handrub is also an effective alternative. (Always check the expiry date before purchasing and using alcohol-based handrub.) Steps:(i) Apply a palmful of alcohol-based handrub to cover all surfaces of the hands. Rub hands according to the 7 steps of hand hygiene technique for at least 20 seconds until the hands are dry. There are three principles to note if you would like to be an expert of hand hygiene: Point 1:Rub hands with 7 stepsThat is the seven parts of your hand, i.e. Palms > Back of hands > Between fingers > Back of fingers > Thumbs > Finger tips > Wrists.Point 2:Rub hands at least 20 secondsPoint 3:Reminding Each Other to Keep Hands Clean Before you are ready to be a hand hygiene master, remember to always clean your hands in the following circumstances: (a) Before & after touching eyes, nose and mouth;(b) Before eating & preparing food;(c) After using the toilet;(d) When hands are contaminated by respiratory secretions, e.g. aftercoughing or sneezing;(e) After changing diapers or handling soiled items from children orthe sick;(f) After touching animals, poultry or their droppings;(g) After handling garbage;(h) After touching public installations or equipment, such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs;(i) Before and after visiting hospitals, residential care homes or caring for the sick; and last but not least, "Any time you find your hands dirty."

(Another) New Year: Ten Targets for Health

As another new year approaches, we set out a lot of new targets as usual. Almost everyone will put "healthy" onto their New Year wish list. So let’s talk about health. Below are some references: the government has set out nine local targets on public health and non-communicable diseases to be achieved by 2025. Let’s see how many you can achieve. Target 1: Reduce premature mortality from NCD(A 25% relative reduction in risk of premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory diseases)- Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are major causes of ill-health, disability and death. If not addressed, NCD poses threats to individual’s health and well-being, and family, healthcare system, society, productivity and socioeconomic development. Target 2: Reduce harmful use of alcohol(At least 10% relative reduction in the prevalence of binge drinking and harmful use of alcohol (harmful drinking/alcohol dependence) among adults and in the prevalence of drinking among youth)- Alcohol use is a component cause of more than 200 disease and injury conditions, including heart diseases, cancers, liver diseases, a range of mental and behavioural disorders, and other non-communicable diseases. Alcohol use accounts for considerable health-care resource use, personal suffering, morbidity, death and social consequences. Target 3: Reduce physical inactivity(A 10% relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity among adolescents and adults)- Physical inactivity is estimated to be the principal cause for approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancer burden, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden. Maintaining high amounts and intensities of physical activity starting from childhood and continuing into adult years will bring many health benefits, including increased physical fitness (both cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength), reduced body fatness, favourable cardiovascular and metabolic disease risk profiles, enhanced bone health and reduced symptoms of depression. Target 4: Reduce salt intake(A 30% relative reduction in mean population daily intake of salt/sodium)- High salt consumption contributes to raised blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Target 5: Reduce tobacco use(A 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years)- Tobacco kills people prematurely. On average, tobacco users lose 15 years of life. Up to half of all tobacco users will die of tobacco related causes. Smoking contributes to 14% of all deaths from non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease. Target 6: Contain the prevalence of raised blood pressure- Raised blood pressure (hypertension) is a major cardiovascular risk factor. If left uncontrolled, it can cause heart attacks, stroke, dementia, renal failure and blindness. Hypertension rarely causes symptoms in the early stages and many people go undiagnosed. Early detection, adequate treatment and good control of hypertension are effective in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. Target 7: Halt the rise in diabetes and obesity- Diabetes of all types (type 1, type 2, impaired glucose tolerance, impaired fasting glycaemia, gestational diabetes) can lead to complications in many parts of the body, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss and nerve damage, leading to disability and premature death. Diabetes imposes a large economic burden on the health-care system and the wider economy. Overweight and obesity are the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Obesity also increases the likelihood of developing other non-communicable diseases such as cancers. Target 8: Prevent heart attacks and strokes through drug therapy and counselling- People with multiple risk factors, such as smoking, raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol and/or diabetes have a higher 10-year risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke, coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease and heart failure occurring. Population-based interventions alone will not be sufficient to prevent heart attacks and strokes for people at such risk level. Providing drug therapy (including glycaemic control of diabetes mellitus and control of hypertension using a total risk approach) and counselling to high-risk individuals are important to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Target 9: Improve availability of affordable basic technologies and essential medicines to treat major NCD- Without effective medicines and essential diagnostic and monitoring equipment made available at health facilities to treat non-communicable diseases (NCD), patients will suffer short and long term adverse effects from their disease. Sustainable health-care financing, health policies that safeguard equitable access, adequate and reliable procurement systems for basic health technologies and essential NCD medicines, training of healthcare workers, and evidence-based treatment guidelines and protocols are all necessary for effective management of NCD. Plus: the 10th target, proposed by the editor, is to maintain your mental wellness. (Click here to read more about Strategy and Action Plan for Prevention and Control of NCD in Hong Kong)