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Health, history, hygiene and hands

The University of York’s Department of Health Sciences recently invited Professor Wendy Graham, the Soapbox Collaborative’s Chief Scientific Adviser, to give a public lecture on the importance of hand hygiene at home and in healthcare facilities.

In the lecture Professor Graham explored the drivers and barriers to hand hygiene in the context of maternity units in low-income settings, where hygiene can make a difference between life and death.

The lecture, which was part of the prestigious Jim Matthew Lecture Series was held on Tuesday 8th March and was attended by around 50 students, midwifes, academic staff and members of the general public. The topic generated much interest and a lively Q&A session was held after the lecture.

Emma Morrison, Soapbox’s Scientific Project Officer, also attended the event which gave attendees the chance to try out interactive hand washing stations. Emma built a ‘tippy tap’, shown on the left, as an example of a simple and hygienic device to wash hands with soap and running waterwhich is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. The tap is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacterial transmission as the user touches only the soap. It proved a great tool to continue the conversation about hand washing.

pic2Midwifery students from the University of York, Charlotte Needham, Lucy Flatley & Katherine Ellery, were also on hand to demonstrate hand hygiene techniques using Glitter Bug – a fluorescent lotion that, when used with a UVA lamp, makes it possible to see how well hands are washed by showing residual glowing in places where bacteria, fungi and viruses love to lurk which are commonly missed by ineffective handwashing techniques.

Thanks to everyone who was able to attended and also to those who supported the event – making it such a success!