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Hand hygiene helps to reduce school absenteeism rates due to illnesses by almost 40% of studies suggest, said a senior healthcare professional.
While many factors contribute to school absenteeism, student illness is believed to be the main driver of student absenteeism.
The transmission of infections within schools can result in infections making students too sick to attend classes, said Dr Mohammed Rahmathulla Shafeeq, Assistant Executive Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Hamad Medical Corporation.
He urged parents and teachers to place special focus on handwashing.
“Proper and regular handwashing is essential for children as it ensures hygiene and averts infection,” said Dr Shafeeq.
“Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitiser,” he said.
Diseases such as flu, common cold, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach flu are common diseases that can be positively impacted by more frequent hand hygiene and routine cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces.
“Proper and regular handwashing at school and outside keeps children free of infection. And schools should have proper facilities that help students easily wash their hands and maintain proper hygiene,” said Dr Shafeeq.
“Sinks should be placed in a place that is quite accessible for all students. And we recommend liquid soaps as soap bars cause infection to be transmitted from an infected child to others while it is used for handwashing,” he added.
Dr Shafeeq also said that tissue papers should be made available and children should be asked to make use of them after washing hands.
“Possibility of infection is high if the hands remain wet,” he said.
Dr Shafeeq also urged the school authorities to ensure that enough break time is available for all.
“Inadequacy of time can create inconvenience for students and this should be addressed. And all students should be given bathroom break if they demand it during class time,” he said.
He asked parents to teach their children personal hygiene and ensure hygiene is properly maintained in order to ensure that their children are free of infection.
“Children should be asked to take regular baths and brushing of teeth. And they should be sent to school with cleaned washed clothes,” he said.
Dr Shafeeq urged school authorities to regularly clean and maintain water cooler dispensers and air conditioning units in order to ensure they don’t transmit anything harmful.
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