How clean do you think your hands are after you have washed them?
Patrons of Yuhua Village Market in Jurong East got to find out yesterday, as part of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital's hand hygiene community outreach initiative.
Held from 8.30am to 11.30am, the programme targeted both shoppers and hawkers to raise awareness about the importance of hand hygiene. The event was held in conjunction with World Hand Hygiene Day, which was marked globally last Saturday.
Studies show that washing one's hands can help to reduce the likelihood of contracting gastrointestinal diseases and respiratory infections.
It is an essential health practice that people need to consciously adopt in everyday life, said Dr Surinder Pada, director of infectious diseases and chairman of the hospital's infection control team.
Dr Pada said: "From dirty tissue paper to dirty utensils, as long as you have touched something that may have viruses on it, you should practise hand hygiene.
"The biggest thing that has made an impact on medicine was not the advent of antibiotics, but things like clean drinking water and vaccinations for children. Hand hygiene is one of those public health measures that can make a big impact."
Shoppers and hawkers were shown the correct hand-washing method by members of the hospital's infection control team.
They then had the opportunity to test their knowledge. Before washing, they had to apply a handrub with special fluorescent dye. If their washing was up to the mark, the surfaces of their hands would glow under ultraviolet light. The areas that were not cleaned properly would remain as dark patches.
Madam Guo Kok, 69, worked in a coffee shop before retirement and already knew hand-washing techniques. But she said the session was a good "refresher course".
"Sometimes people, the elderly especially, are set in their ways, so public events like this remind people that hand washing is something to be taken seriously."
Fellow shopper Saw Ngek Geok, 63, said: "There is a lot of construction and dust here, so I need to pay attention to hygiene."
The hospital hopes to carry out more public health community outreach initiatives like this one in other areas in the west.