New Canadian-based Health & Hygiene Council, chaired by Dr. Donald Low,
is created to address gaps in knowing versus doing
TORONTO, Oct. 8 /CNW/ - An international survey on hygiene practices has
shown that for the third consecutive year, Canada tops the charts when it
comes to knowing the importance of infection prevention. Nine out of 10
Canadians (90%)(1) believe "washing hands regularly" is the most effective way
to help protect against catching the flu - more than any other country
surveyed and well ahead of Germany who ranked second in this area with 66 per
cent. That being said, there is a gap between knowing and doing. Canadians
know how to protect themselves and stay healthy, but are not following through
with action. Only four in ten (37%)(2) Canadians claim their children always
wash their hands before eating and a similar amount said that they did so
'most' of the time (44%)(3). This is compared to countries such as Malaysia
(80%), India (79%) and Italy (76%) in terms of always washing before eating.
If Canadian children are not following simple handwashing basics, it is
alarming to consider which other health and hygiene practices may be
As cold and flu season approaches, Canadians need not only to be aware of
the health threats that have the potential to impact their families, but also
how to prepare and protect themselves. It is especially important to model and
teach the basics of handwashing. To address this need and other health and
hygiene needs across the country, Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Lysol brand
products, has provided an educational grant to the newly established Health &
Hygiene Council, Canada (HHCC).
The Formation of a Canadian Authority on Health & Hygiene
The aim of the Health & Hygiene Council is to revisit current hygiene
practices, identify health and hygiene gaps across the country, offer
realistic recommendations to the public around the importance of health and
hygiene in the home and community and identify programs and/or solutions that
might help fill the gaps identified.
The HHCC brings together leading experts in the fields of microbiology,
virology, paediatrics, infectious disease, public health and education. It is
chaired by Dr. Donald Low, Microbiologist-in-Chief at Toronto Medical
Laboratories/Mount Sinai Hospital, and has representatives from British
Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The inaugural meeting
took place June 25, 2008 in Toronto.
"Canadians indicate that they understand the importance of hygiene,
although when it comes to following through, they fall short," says Dr. Low.
"Our priority is continued awareness about the important link between hygiene
education and the health of Canadians, and the two most important areas for
discussion are hand hygiene and ensuring young children are taught the basics.
The HHCC will be unveiling a number of recommendations and tactics in 2008 and
2009 to tackle this knowledge gap in Canada."
Key Health & Hygiene Issues Facing Canadians
According to the HHCC, hygiene standards are different across age groups,
provinces and organizations. As a result, many hygiene issues are being
under-prioritized. Hand-washing and surface disinfection are two issues that
are currently neglected by community leaders and care providers, along with
food safety, immunization and proper use of antibiotics. Further, their
enormous importance in the prevention and reduction of diseases such as
diarrhea and acute respiratory infections is not being effectively
communicated and/or understood. Since children are a sensitive portion of the
population, hygiene standards for daycares and elementary schools were
highlighted as a focus for the Council in 2008/2009. Lessons learned by
children at school are often adopted into the household.
Having agreed on these fundamental issues, the HHCC developed a number of
recommendations rooted in education and information-sharing on the topics of
hygiene and disinfection. They are currently considering the following:
- A 'State of the nation' hygiene study focusing on health and hygiene
practices and gaps in daycares and elementary schools. Programs that
may be considered to fill in the gap include:
- An educational package for parents with children in
- Train-the-trainer programs
- A detailed resource comparing common household disinfectants and the
specific germs, viruses and illnesses they can help counter
"We recognized the need for an expert advisory group in Canada to deal
with issues that are specific to Canadians," says Adonis Souloglou, Marketing
Director, Reckitt Benckiser Canada Inc. "We also recognized the need for a
Council that would go one step further and convert recommendations into
actions and we look forward to seeing their plans in the coming months."
HHCC Practical Home Hygiene Tips
The importance of simple health and hygiene practices cannot be
over-emphasized. For this reason, the Council has developed top-line
recommendations for Canadians to follow.
HHCC member Dr. Caroline Quach states, "As a mother, I've taught my
children how and when to wash their hands; I keep their vaccinations up to
date; and, I try to keep my kitchen as safe as possible. These simple steps go
a long way to promote health for my family and the people they encounter on a
Simple measures such as increasing the frequency and efficiency of hand
washing and surface disinfection where food is prepared will undoubtedly
improve standards of home hygiene, and ameliorate levels of contamination.
This is particularly essential in homes with children.
Did you know...
- Germs love wet surfaces?
- Keep all surfaces as clean and dry as possible - germs such as
bacteria are less likely to multiply on dry surfaces
- You should also remember to wash your hands:
- Before feeding children or giving any medication
- Before putting on contact lenses
- After handling pets
- Before and after handling any raw food
- The vast majority of food-borne illnesses occur because food was not
handled or cooked properly and 80% of the cases happen in the home?
Public health experts estimate that there are 11 to 13 million cases
of food-borne illness in Canada every year.(8)
- Always cook food at proper temperatures
- Refrigerate foods promptly and keep your refrigerator at 4 C
degrees or below
Visit www.canadianhealthandhygienecouncil.ca for more practical health and
All statistical information refers to the International Consumer Hygiene
Study 2008 in which 10,000 consumers were surveyed across 10 countries.
Detailed results can be found at www.canadianhealthandhygienecouncil.ca
Note to editors:
Health & Hygiene Council, Canada
- Dr. Donald E. Low, Microbiologist-in-Chief at Toronto Medical
Laboratories/Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON (chair)
- Dr. Brenda L. Cholin, Medical Health Officer, Prairie North Health
Region, North Battleford, SK
- Dr. Caroline Quach, Pediatric Infectious Disease and Medical
Microbiologist, Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal, QC
- Douglas S. McCall, Canadian Association for School Health, Vancouver,
- Elizabeth Watson, Infection Control Practitioner, South Shore Health,
South Shore, NS
(1) International Hygiene Survey (conducted by TNS Canadian Facts in
February 2008), question 4
(2) International Hygiene Survey (conducted by TNS Canadian Facts in
February 2008), question 5
(3) International Hygiene Survey (conducted by TNS Canadian Facts in
February 2008), question 5
For further information:
For further information: Ethan Pigott, Hill & Knowlton Canada, (416)
413-4744, email@example.com; Leigha Cotton, Hill & Knowlton
Canada, (416) 413-4757, firstname.lastname@example.org