University Hospital Sharjah (UHS) successfully launched a community outreach programme for children called “Kids Club” which aims to be a fun way of engaging and teaching parents and young children how to stay free from preventable infections.
UHS receives around 80 children per month suffering from viral infections such as gastroenteritis and fevers – many preventable and often simply due to poor hygiene. Government hospital figures for similar instances are allegedly higher, but no clear data exists on overall numbers.
Around 30 children participated in the Kids Club two-hour programme held on 8 March 2016 at UHS’s Out Patient Department, which is set to become a regular monthly activity organized by the hospital.
“More often than not, children can become sick for simple reasons like not washing their hands properly before eating; therefore, we feel it is important to provide parents and children a chance for them to come and learn about basic hygiene measures that will prevent common child ailments, in a fun yet informative environment,” said Hana Ayesh, Nurse Manager at the NICU/Paediatric Department, UHS.
Kristine Gabasan, Infection Control Coordinator at UHS, said that it is a kid centric programme which ultimately targets parents and children ages four to nine years the most, with UHS planning to extend their initiative beyond the hospital by taking the programme out to local schools in the near future.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cleaning hands at the right time and in the right way can prevent many common infections. WHO experts say that washing your hands properly should take about as long as singing “Happy Birthday”.
According to WHO’s, the proper way to wash hands is to observe the six step method: wet hands with water and apply soap. Rub hands together with the soap; lather the backs of the hands, between fingers and under the nails. Rinse hands well under running water then dry hands using paper towels or air dry. In public toilets, the advice is to protect hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the restroom, with a paper towel.
“Through this programme, we teach as well as emphasize children to cough into a disposable tissue and not into their bare hands. If tissueis unavailable, then coughing or sneezing into the upper sleeve is advised. This is to prevent other children from getting infected,” Gabasan added.
Other elements of the basic hygiene programme highlight that one should keep some distance from other children when coughing or sneezing as this canspread germs via microscopic droplets in the air.
Common occurrences where it is recommended to wash your hands include before eating, after using the toilet, after touching a cut or a wound, after handling a pet, and when touching garbage.