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Clean hands vital in fight against infection and viruses - McGimpsey

Friday, 15 October 2010

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has highlighted the importance of clean hands in the fight against the spread of infections and viruses.

Speaking on World Hand Washing Day, the Minister said: “Effective hand washing is one of the most important tools in preventing many illnesses. Clean hands are vital in controlling the spread of healthcare associated infections, as well as other illnesses such as food poisoning and seasonal flu.”

The Minister continued: “I am committed to providing cleaner and safer care for patients. That is why I introduced the regional hand hygiene campaign to drive down the rate of infection in health and social care settings.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael McBride reinforced the Minister’s message that effective hand washing is absolutely essential. He said: “Good hand hygiene should be a personal priority for everyone and we all have a part to play in controlling the spread of infections and viruses by making sure that we have clean hands.

“This winter, we should be particularly mindful of hand washing to prevent the spread of flu. The influenza virus is highly infectious and can easily be spread from person to person. You should wash your hands thoroughly any time you cough or sneeze into your hands.

“It is also important to protect yourself and others from food poisoning. Your hands can easily spread bacteria around the kitchen and onto food. This is why it's important to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water at each of these times:

  • before starting to prepare food
  • after touching raw meat, including poultry
  • after going to the toilet
  • after touching the bin
  • after touching pets.”

More information on the importance of hand hygiene, hand washing technique, the seasonal flu virus and healthcare associated infections is available on: the nidirect website.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, Assistant Director of Public Health (Health Protection) from the Public Health Agency added: “A strong focus on hand hygiene is critical to our efforts to prevent spread of infections. The Agency continues to work with Trusts, Primary Care and residential and nursing homes to promote good hand hygiene practice right across all health and social care settings. This is a good example of a global health promoting initiative which has strong relevance for everyone in Northern Ireland”.

Notes to editors:

1. Information on the cleanyourhands campaign can be accessed on the Public Health Agency website.

2. Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0571, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.