Recently, a new Position paper published on the behalf of the Global Hygiene Council (GHC) explores the effect of improved everyday hygienic practices on the health of an individual and found that common habits such as handwashing reduce the likelihood of contracting infections by fifty percent.
In addition, the lowered risk of having infections in all seasons also cut down the need for the use of antibiotics for treatment by thirty percent. Consequently, global health experts are now urging people to improve the hygiene conditions at homes and other places.
Improvements in hygiene not only maintain health but also addresses two of the major global problems which include the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the growing issue of antibiotic resistance around the world.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, habits such as hand washing frequently have become much more common than before as they are being promoted by health authorities as crucial to avoiding the coronavirus infection.
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The majority of people and scientists are aware of hygiene during a pandemic such as the current health crisis in order to control its spread and cut down the number of incoming cases.
On the other hand, even though antibiotic resistance has become a primary focus and a prominent rising issues in the past decade, hygiene is not considered as an important preventive measure that can potentially help in controlling the issues and is not given much significance.
The new position paper, whose findings appear in the online edition of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), focuses on adding targeted hygienic practices in everyday life at homes as well as at a community level.
According to the researchers in the new paper, such changes can make a fundamental difference and improvement in health while also reducing the use of medicines such as antibiotics among the people.
In addition, the study also highlights that such practices can play a significant role in the issue of antibiotic resistance as they may control the spread of microbes which are resistant to multiple antibiotics.
If the issue is not controlled any time soon, health experts are concerned that many of these microbes may cause a health crisis similar to the COVID-19 pandemic which may even possibly be deadlier as there would not even be a standard treatment to cure patients.
Research on the growth of antibiotic resistance shows that nearly thirty-five percent of the common infections that once used to be fairly easy to treat are now already resistant to most of the antibiotics.
In addition, the rates of antibiotic resistance are as high as ninety-percent in some of the middle or low-income countries in the world, which leads to over two thousand deaths every year.
Jean-Yves Maillard, the leading author of the study and the professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, at Cardiff University says:
“In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and evidence presented in this paper, it is more urgent than ever for policymakers to recognize the role of community hygiene to minimize the spread of infections, which in turn will help in reducing the consumption of antibiotics and help the fight against antibiotic resistance.”
Along with the paper, the Global Hygiene Council has also published a Manifesto which urges organizations, researchers, and healthcare experts, both national and international, to further emphasize the importance of improving hygiene at homes, offices, institutions, and other places.
The encouragement of such practices can help in fewer cases of infections as well as lowered risk of more antibiotic-resistant microbes. Due to the spread of COVID-19, such practices are comparatively easier to add and continue in the future.