Innovative hand hygiene solutions to prevent spread of Coronavirus Disease

It’s been a month plus battling with COVID-19 in our country Kenya. The number of cases of people confirmed with the disease has risen overtime with some recoveries and fatalities. What has come out clear is that hygiene is crucial in preventing spread of the virus. Coronaviruses are a group of contagious, flu-like viruses that occurs with symptoms such as cold. Some of its early symptom include fever, cough and shortness of breath[1]. Unfortunately, coronavirus has no vaccine but its symptoms can be managed. Some drugs have been tested and are being repurposed for compassionate use in COVID-19 treatment. It’s therefore important to prevent its spread among people which could affect their health, livelihood.

Mercy watches her younger sister wash her hands using the Tippy Tap (Image by World Vision)

In the fight to curb this menace, the World Health Organization has given measures to be followed[2]. This includes how we should wash our hands, use of masks to prevent inhaling contagions, use of sanitizers among other guidelines to help in the fight. Countries have implemented different ways to curb this by sensitizing the public on importance of practicing the recommended hygiene measures. Some people have had concerns on measures that have been put in place for example where one can contaminate the tap or water dispenser in the process of hand washing. This leaves the virus particles on the touched tap handles hence leading to its spread when other people use the same water dispenser.

Different innovative solutions have been developed to solve the concerns about the contamination of water dispenser and other items used in public. To begin with, electronic hand sanitizers have been installed in some buildings. This device uses infrared sensor technology to detect presence of hands placed beneath them. The infrared sensors detect energy that is emitted by one’s body heat triggering the pump to activate and dispense. The advantage of this technology is the capability of the device to dispense a designated amount of sanitizer and the fact that one does not come in contact with a dirty dispenser. This system works perfectly in buildings with many people but may not be cost effective to install in some places or small businesses.

Another innovation that has been adopted by local communities is the use of their foot to step on a pedal then water is dispensed from a jerry can. One of the major challenges faced by some communities in Kenya is accessing continuous supply of water. So, using a pedal to dispense water when needed is a good way to prevent any wastage of water. Apart from saving water, it prevents unnecessary touching of the tap or dispenser which can contaminate it. In worst case scenario, an infected person can leave pathogens on the tap which could lead to spread of the virus to other people. In 2018, World Vision covered the story of Mercy a 14 years old girl who innovated Tippy Tap to help dispense flowing water in small amounts for washing hands[3]. That technology was used in rural areas that had water scarcity problems. Bringing on board such ideas to full development and supporting other innovative systems on maintaining hygiene can help in containing spread of COVID-19.

Lastly, let’s not forget the basic precautions of washing hands with soap and water. This is a simple measure that has been advocated for by experts. It is a cheaper method that can be made available in rural and urban areas as a way to prevent COVID-19 spread. Its pleasing to see that most people in Kenya have adopted cleaning of hand regularly. It has become a common trend now to see hand washing points in every entrance of a building or shop which was not common before. The government putting measures to enforce this practice has contributed in ensuring all businesses follow the rules made.

In conclusion, proper hygiene helps in controlling this pandemic. Implementation of innovative ways to upgrade how hygiene measures are taken can help control further spread of the infection in ways that people don’t expect. This is a time that we have to be hygienic to protect ourselves to protect our loved ones and community. Be hygienic and stay safe!

Author: Hezron Munyakin, CEO and Founder Planet Wizard Media and Brand Director, Ryculture Health and Social Innovation.

[1] Symptoms of Coronavirus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html [2] Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/key-messages-and-actions-for-covid-19-prevention-and-control-in-schools-march-2020.pdf?sfvrsn=baf81d52_4 [3] Tippy Taps Enhance Hand Washing in Rural Kenya: https://www.wvi.org/kenya/article/tippy-taps-enhance-hand-washing-rural-kenya