Saturday was a big day for nine-year-old Munir, because he learnt to wash his hands the medically friendly way.
At a small gathering in the hallway next to the paediatrics ward at Civil Hospital, 50 students from the Dow Medical University of Health Science (DUHS) taught young patients how to use soap and protect themselves from 80 per cent of infections. The ‘Saaf haath sehat ka raaz’ [Handwashing - key to health] event was organised by the students to spread awareness on the Global Handwashing Day.
With a red bucket in hand they made children including Munir, form a straight line and wash their hands one-by-one, using techniques approved by the World Health Organisation. The bed-ridden patients and their attendants were given a personal demonstration inside the wards. Dressed in worn-out shalwar kameez, 12-year-old Sajjad said that he was really happy because the doctors had given everyone goody bags with soaps and candy as well. As part of the handwashing campaign, the students also tried their best to revamp the dull ward.
According to DUHS sophomore Zarmeen Qamar, the ward looked too gloomy. She added that since the paediatrics ward was for children, they wanted to add lots of colour to it. Another medical student, Syeda Ezzerukshan Adil said they wanted to change the way the ward looked because the mental health of the patient usually influenced the physical health too. She added that their aim was to spread knowledge.
The doctors-to-be told parents and attendants about what sort of infections could be spread through dirty hands. Adil felt that this was important to teach mothers and other family members about the importance of clean hands.
A fourth year student at DUHS said that cleanliness played an important role in patient recovery. “Many patients don’t recover because they come from an economic stratum which is unaware about washing hands,” he said. Akhtar Amin, one of the programme coordinators, urged people to step up and join the cause. He requested soap manufacturers to contribute to their cause and provide them with anti-bacterial soap. While talking to The Express Tribune about the event, programme coordinator and student Sami Haider said that the students had come together and organised the entire event. They formed a non-governmental organisation called Save Our Civil Hospital with help from DUHS professor Dr Masood Hameed and Dr Junaid Ashraf.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2011.
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