South Africa: why hand washing with soap and water (not gels) is more important than ever

Hand washing with soap and water in South Africa is more important than ever

“Alcohol-based replacements for water may fuel bacteria proliferation”

The recent almost catastrophic drought in Southern Africa has once again highlighted issues around the importance of hand washing with soap and water in a previously unanticipated way, according to a recent report on the Business Day website.

The article by Wilmot James and Madeline Thomson*, acknowledges just how close Cape town came to a disaster with its water supply coming perilously close to running out, before the winter rains provided much-needed relief.

The importance of water saving

One of the smaller, but more significant, water saving measures introduced during the drought was the widespread introduction of alcohol based hand sanitisers.

“Typically, only one tap runs now in public-access toilets to encourage people to use wall-mounted hand sanitisers instead” says the article.

“Alcohol-based replacements for water may fuel bacteria proliferation”

Many gels simply do not work against certain bacteria – many of which are not only becoming increasingly resistant to multiple drugs, but also to alcohol, confirms the report.

In the United States it is reported that Clostridium difficile (C. diffe) is becoming an increasing problem. Alcohol based gels just do not work against it.

“C. diffe survives alcohol-based sanitisers because of its hard shell. The only way to get rid of it is vigorous hand washing using soap, which flushes the bacteria down the drain.”

Or as the article concludes,

“In planning for future droughts, a return to good old-fashioned vigorous hand washing will be necessary.”

*”James is a visiting professor at the Irving Medical Center and Thomson a senior research scholar at the Mailman School of Public Health — both at Columbia University.”

Sanitisers hand us a new problem »

Water saving hand washing

Teal portable hand wash units use very little water: the entire range provides effective hand hygiene through a highly efficient water jet. Vehicle mounted, wall mounted, mains powered and free standing hand wash stations are all available.

The Teal range of highly water efficient mobile sinks includes the MediWash, HygieniusProWash, BigSynkSuper StalletteTEALwashHandeman XtraCompact ClassicKiddiWash XtraKiddiSynk and WashStand.

Teal’s Southern Africa distributor »

TEAL’s representative for Southern Africa is GS Hygiene (Pty) Ltd.

“TEALwash mobile hot water hand wash stations make hand washing possible when no plumbing is available. Our unique products provide hassle free, cost effective and efficient solutions for your health and safety needs.”