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Identifying gaps in hand hygiene practice to support tailored target audience messaging in Soweto: A cross-sectional community survey

Siobhan L. Johnstone, Nicola A. Page, Michelle J. Groome, Shabir A. Madhi, Portia Mutevedzi, Juno Thomas
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 37, No 1 | a339 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v37i1.339 | © 2022 Siobhan Lindsay Johnstone, Nicola A Page, Michelle J Groome, Shabir A Madhi, Portia Mutevedzi, Juno Thomas | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 September 2021 | Published: 31 March 2022

About the author(s)

Siobhan L. Johnstone, Centre for Enteric Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nicola A. Page, Centre for Enteric Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Department of Medical Virology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Michelle J. Groome, Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Shabir A. Madhi, South African Medical Research Council, Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Portia Mutevedzi, South African Medical Research Council, Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Juno Thomas, Centre for Enteric Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Effective risk communication is essential for outbreak mitigation, as recently highlighted during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Hand hygiene is one of the proposed public health interventions to protect against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) acquisition and transmission along with social distancing, improved ventilation, environmental cleaning, and wearing of masks. Improving hand hygiene practices in the community requires an understanding of the socio-behavioural context. This cross-sectional community survey in Soweto identified gaps in hand hygiene, which can inform appropriate messaging at the community level. Only 42% of survey respondents practiced adequate hand hygiene. Tailored educational messaging should be targeted at young adults in particular, and the importance of soap for hand hygiene must be emphasised for all age groups. Risk communication should expand to focus on preventing multiple infectious diseases during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.


Keywords

hand hygiene; risk communication; COVID-19; diarrhoeal diseases; community

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