Ever wonder about those guys who don’t wash their hands in public restrooms? Dan McGuire has contributed the following piece for a better understanding of hand washing in Japan that will certainly motivate us all to use more soap and water.
Hand washing in Japan – Clean and clear benefits
Cleanliness is all about perception as what some may consider clean is not necessarily so. Take hospitals for example where it is common for patients to go in with one illness and come out with another. Just because the floors and walls of a hospital look clean, it does not mean that dangerous bacteria and viruses are not lurking on the handrails or medical equipment.
Perception about proper hand washing or even the need to do seems to vary among people. Through observational research conducted in Tokyo*, the majority of men and women using public washrooms attempted to clean their hands by wetting fingers or rubbing hands together with water only regardless that there was soap available. Even more startling, many men were seen bypassing the sink altogether. According to a small observational study in Tokyo, men and women who actually washed with soap accounted for less than 20% and only a tiny fraction of them did so for at least 20 seconds – the amount of time needed to clean hands sufficiently.
Without proper hand washing, microscopic fecal matter – whether one’s own or that which was picked up from a washroom door handle – continues its journey well beyond the washroom to contaminate train handgrips, doorknobs, cell phones and even food. Now consider how many times you unconsciously touch your mouth, nose and eyes each day: it is many more times than what you think.
The good news is that we are seeing more and more train stations in Japan with soap dispensers and alcohol dispensers placed in various public facilities. As 80%* of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch, more focus on proper hand washing is needed as a public health measure. Practicing proper hand washing is a very easy step to prevent illness – it’s all about the right perception.
*Sources: Tokyo-based field studies & CDC (Center for Disease Control)
Courtesy of Dan McGuire
Dan McGuire is the Head of the Japan Healthcare Network, a marketing and consulting agency in Tokyo. He has spent nearly 10 years in the Japanese healthcare industry serving some of the world’s largest healthcare and consulting companies.
above image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net