Why to understand The Importance of Hand Hygiene


In the wake of the iconic Bollywood dialogue, “Ye hath mujhe dede,” which highlights the contagious bacteria lurking on dirty hands, it becomes evident that neglecting hand hygiene can lead to severe health issues. Bacteria, omnipresent in our surroundings, inadvertently attach themselves to our hands. Fortunately, chemical innovations have allowed us to combat these unseen threats, safeguarding human lives.


The process first started with one interesting real story

The exciting tale begins over a century ago, around 1896, during a transformative period in history when various fields, including biology, chemistry, and physics, were redefining human understanding of the world. This is the story of a man whose ideas played a pivotal role in saving countless lives—Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis.


Mysterious Death of Pregnant Women and Newborn Child

In 1846, a Hungarian physician, Dr. Semmelweis, took on a mission to unveil the truth behind the deaths of newborns and pregnant women in hospitals. This era marked a golden age for physician-scientists, focusing on scientific training and investigation. Unlike his contemporaries, Semmelweis did not attribute illnesses to bad air or evil spirits but turned to anatomy for answers. He meticulously collected data during his tenure at the maternity clinic in the General Hospital in Vienna, aiming to understand why so many women were succumbing to puerperal fever or childbed fever.

His research focused on two maternity wards—one staffed by male doctors and medical students and the other by female midwives. when Semmelweis analyzed the data and discovered that women in the doctors’ clinic faced a nearly five times higher mortality rate than those in the midwives’ clinic.


Some conjecture led the doctor wrong way

This alarming disparity puzzled him. He realized the critical difference between the two wards only when he connected the dots. In the midwives’ clinic, women gave birth on their sides, while in the doctors’ clinic, they gave birth on their backs. But it had no means of reason behind the death.

However, Semmelweis didn’t stop there. He noticed that when someone died of childbed fever in the doctors’ clinic, a priest would walk through, ringing a bell, which seemed to terrify the women. Semmelweis hypothesized that this fear-induced stress might contribute to the spreading of the fever. Eliminating the priest and bell had no significant effect.


Truth revealed behind the death

Semmelweis then made a crucial observation when a pathologist who conducted autopsies on childbed fever victims fell ill and died. This led him to a revelation: childbed fever wasn’t confined to women in childbirth; it affected others in the hospital, particularly pathologists who conducted autopsies on fever victims. Analyzing the pathologist’s symptoms, Semmelweis realized they matched precisely those of the women who succumbed to childbed fever. It was a breakthrough—the disease was not exclusive to women in childbirth.

However, the question remained: why did more women die in the doctors’ clinic than in the midwives’ clinic? The answer lay in the fact that doctors in the former performed autopsies while midwives did not.

Semmelweis concluded that cadaverous particles from the autopsies were transmitting the disease. To test his theory, he introduced hand and instrument cleaning with a chlorine solution, unknowingly pioneering the importance of hand hygiene. This simple measure significantly reduced the childbed fever mortality rate.


Boycott of Dr. Semmelweis even after his scientific evidence

Semmelweis had uncovered a timeless truth—hand-washing is vital to preventing disease spread and infections in public health. However, his hypothesis incited resistance from those other doctors who felt blamed for the fever’s transmission. Despite Semmelweis’s persistence and efforts to spread his hand-washing method to hospitals across Europe, he faced opposition and eventually lost his job. Convincing people and healthcare providers to prioritize hand hygiene remains a challenge even today.


Girnes is a brand located in Surat that manufactures cleaning and hygiene products.

Girness, an integral part of the well-established Shree Hari Group (SHG), has been involved in various businesses over the past two decades. Its notable contribution lies in manufacturing highly regarded cleaning products, certified by laboratories and endorsed by medical professionals. These products include Hand Wash, Floor Cleaner, Fabric Wash, Dishwashing Liquid, and Toilet Cleaner.

Recognizing the importance of hygiene, there’s a solid call to educate children and communities about good hygiene practices and maintaining clean surroundings. This emphasis on cleanliness carries a rich historical legacy exemplified by the pioneering work of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. His dedication to hygiene, particularly handwashing, remains relevant today, marked by the challenges of pandemics like COVID-19 and the last century Spanish flu.

In light of these challenges, promoting a hygiene culture becomes paramount for safeguarding our present and future well-being, as aptly stated by Mahatma Gandhi: “Dirty surroundings breed disease and unhappiness; clean surroundings breed health and happiness.” Girness, with its quality cleaning products, actively supports this mission.