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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 192-5

Hand washing practices in urban and rural communities in and around Kolkata, West Bengal.


Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata

Correspondence Address:
S K Ray
Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 20108887

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BACKGROUND: Public health importance of hand washing was known since 19th century. Many researchers also highlighted how hand washing could bring down the incidence of diarrhea, ARI & other diseases. OBJECTIVE: To find out the extent of hand washing as practiced by the community, to what extent suggested steps of hand washing was followed and to assess the changes in bacteriological count of hand before and after hand washing. METHOD: A community based cross sectional study was carried out during January-February 2007 among 161 respondents in and around Kolkata through interview, observation of hand washing in some situations as well as carrying out microbiological test. RESULT: 100% respondents interviewed practiced hand washing after defecation either with soap (59%) or with plain water, ash & mud (41%). But 64%, 51.6% and only 21.7% practiced hand washing before preparation of food; after using urinals; after changing the babies' nappies and disposing their feces respectively. Only 16.1% respondents washed their hands as per the recommended time of 15-30 seconds. Majority (75%) dried hands with apparently unclean materials. 90.7% followed step1 but none followed all the steps. Swab collection before and after hand washing revealed a decrease in colony count in 60% of the samples. CONCLUSION: It can be concluded that extent of desirable practices regarding hand washing is still lacking and needs to be emphasized.


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