Survey on sanitary habits and hand hygiene is bad news
Half of UAE residents claim to be too busy to wash their hands and 24 per cent don't even scrub them before cooking.
Those are the less than sanitary findings of a survey of UAE and Saudi residents’ hand-washing habits.
The report was released ahead of yesterday’s launch of the new Arab Hygiene Council, which is about to start a hand-washing campaign to help reduce the spread of such diseases as flu, E.coli, listeria, salmonella and even polio or cholera.
So what does Abu Dhabi think?
Do you wash your hands before each meal or is the hygiene risk exaggerated?
“This absolutely grosses me out,” says Joanne Choritti who has been living here for two years. “Honestly, these kinds of reports put me off shaking hands with people. I love the Arabic ‘hand on the heart’ as a sign of respect to someone. It’s much more hygienic than the western handshake. I wish I could take it with me when I go back to America because we need to drop handshakes until everyone agrees to wash their hands!”
Ahmed Malki, a Syrian-born sales agent, says: “I cannot relax when I come into my apartment until I have washed my hands. To me, it’s part of the ritual of coming home. You think about how many people you touch during the day, or the office computer keyboards or restaurant table you sit at that has been used by other people. There is no way I will touch food until my hands are clean.”
Jennifer Evans learned about hand hygiene while working in a fast-food restaurant in Washington DC for a summer.
“Whenever we put our finger to our face, even accidentally, we were immediately sent to wash our hands.
“Anybody who ignored the rule got into trouble. The quickest way to get a cold, or any disease, is to put your unwashed hand to your face. We were told that your hand is the free transport system to carry germs to your nose and mouth.
“Only once in seven months in the UAE did I not wash my hands before a meal and it was the only time I caught a cold.”
Getting to grips with the facts
The HABIT study, funded by Reckitt Benckiser ME, the makers of Dettol anti-septic products, found that of the 1,000 respondents in the UAE
and Saudi Arabia:
56 per cent of people said they were ‘too busy’ to wash their hands
33 per cent said it took too long
24 per cent said they were ‘too hungry’ to wash their hands before cooking or eating.
38 per cent said they only felt the need to wash their hands when they look or feel dirty.
Chairman of the Global Hygiene Council, Professor John Oxford of Queen Mary College, University of London speaking in the UAE this week said: “Handwashing could save more lives than a single vaccine or medical intervention.