Hand-Sanitizer & Hygiene
I was in Gurgaon and I visited the Galleria market while I was here few years back doing pilot project. It was a beautiful market with number of restaurants and eating places and other shops. It was a very lively place with the fountain right at the center, but what was also true that, there were washroom facilities centralized for everybody.
So, over one year I used the washroom facilities three times and what was shocking to me was that there was always a man with broom cleaning and shining the place, but there was no soap to be seen anywhere. It happened to one time.
Then, I came back from US three or four months later and same thing happened second time too, when I used washroom facilities. And same thing happened third time too.
You can understand my nightmare after living in USA and looking at beautiful Galleria Market place where all the facilities are available everywhere around but was a total disaster when it comes to providing the basic hand washing facilities.
How can anybody stay healthy in such an environment??
It happened in a nice movie theater also in a Gurgaon Mall. During the intermission everybody was using washroom facilities. When I went there, I realized there was absolutely no soap. I am in a habit of carrying a hand-sanitizer with me. So, I have no issues cleaning my hands and feeling comfortable about it. But personally, I was shocked.
Reality is in the Galleria market or the movie theater people use the services first and then they look for soap and want to wash their hands and that is only time they find out that there is no soap available. You can understand people are just too embarrassed to talk about it. I did not see anybody complaining. I did talk to management everywhere, but I can do only so much without risking my own life and playing hero. It is just unbelievable!!
These were the reasons, I started the “Asha USA Hand-Sanitizer” project. I did do what I could and what I recommend today for everyone all over country. I spent lakhs of rupee and started manufacturing small 25 cc bottles of hand-sanitizer. The flat ones especially for the boys as they are easy to carry in their pockets. I was selling it for Rs. 10 per bottle and refill for Rs. 5 per bottle. It was a pilot project and I would love to do it again.
Everybody could carry these bottles. Trust me, if you use it before eating lunch or dinner, it will protect you from all the communicable conditions. It kills all the viruses and bacteria. Nobody is saying that our hand has to be 100% clean (it is not possible), but for the infection to happen it depends upon the amount/number of invisible infecting agents we are exposed to and that is where simple hand-sanitizer is dramatically helpful.
People have a mistrust for hand-sanitizer but, I think it is much more effective than soap anytime. I use hand-sanitizer in between seeing all my patients.
I will give you one small story where my brother, a neurosurgeon and Chief of Neurosurgery at Jaipur Golden Hospital, Delhi, a brilliant neurosurgeon and my sister-in-law, MD OB/GYN and myself, were having dinner in Model Town, New Delhi. As usual I took some bottles of these hand-sanitizers with me and I gave one to my brother. I put it on the table and said, “This is yours”. After a while, he was not paying attention and I took the bottle and put it back in my pocket.
I obviously used it to clean my own hands as we all were starting our dinner and all of a sudden, my brother was looking everywhere. I asked him, “What happened?” He said, “Where is my sanitizer bottle?” Then I gave it to him. He just scolded me for taking it away and he used it to clean his hands and same thing my sister-in-law did.
We were very happy; we enjoyed our dinner and we did not have to run for the washroom to wash our hands with soap and water and we were also not sure about the clean towel anyway. You can imagine that with three doctors sitting there and all of us trusted using the hand-sanitizer as all of us have lived in England and US for 10-15 years. So, my dear community, if you won’t trust us then who else, in relation to keeping good health.
Already every family has introduced RO unit in their houses to get clean filtered water. But, what it does? Reverse osmosis (RO), it cleans the water of all the invective elements, impurities and bacteria.
So, you got clean water and then why not take it to the next level, you should carry hand-sanitizer with you and you get clean hands , especially when you use your hand to touch your mouth or try to eat with the hands. You just use your hand-sanitizer before eating. It can be very-very effective in preventing communicable conditions.
When there was an epidemic of flu H1N1 virus, all over the world few years back, it was fascinating to see that every corner of US, every classroom was provided with sanitizer bottle. Every retail store in USA has a sanitizer bottle at the front door and when I landed at airport in Delhi, everywhere, there were sanitizer bottles. There were doctors with the face mask on, sitting and asking everybody coming from the international travel about the flu symptoms. But, once the epidemic was over and I was revisiting the Indira Gandhi International Airport, all those sanitizers had disappeared from India, but they are still there in US.
You feel the most important need of sanitizer when, at the airport during security check you have to take your shoes off, put them in the bin and then you have to put shoes back. Then, you feel very uncomfortable if your hands are not clean.
I went to my friend’s marriage in Allahabad and that was my first train travel after 20 years of leaving India. While I loved every minute of train travel, once again, my dramatic experience was that, the washroom facilities were a disaster. Water was there, but literally no soap was there.
In such situation, I was glad because I was carrying several bottles of hand-sanitizer with me and I could not feel comfortable using washroom facilities, without those sanitizing bottles. I would have spent a very miserable travel time on the train worrying that my hands were not clean.