PGI campaign on hands-free greetings to be published in institute’s journal

The aim of this awareness initiative was to promote hands-free way of greetings to reduce the transmission of pathogens and infections from one person to the other.

As part of its health promotion activity, the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh had started a drive, ‘From handshake to hands-free greetings’, titled ‘Salaam Namaste’ from February 5, 2019, long before the onset the coronavirus pandemic.

A paper titled, ‘Managing Vulnerability to Covid-19 through ‘Salaam Namaste Campaign’ has been now been accepted to be published in the journal of PGIMER, and according to Dr Sonu Goel, Professor, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health and corresponding author.

The aim of this awareness initiative was to promote hands-free way of greetings to reduce the transmission of pathogens and infections from one person to the other. Many specialists worldwide have called handshaking a ‘modern-day’ health hazard, responsible for transmission of around 90 per cent of bacteria.

Infectious diseases are a major global health concern and despite the availability of various antimicrobials and vaccines, they remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Infectious diseases are transmitted from person to person through direct or indirect contact. Covid-19 too spreads by coming in contact with a person having the infection. This can occur when an individual with pathogens touches, kisses, coughs or sneezes near someone who is not infected.

Recent studies and unpublished reports have shown that from a health point of view, handshakes may transmit more than 80 per cent of the virus in the first contact itself. The fact that there is no vaccine and medicine available to treat and prevent the Covid-19 infection as yet, has forced everyone to avoid physical contact followed by an advice to stay safe at home.

Around the world, people have been advised to follow cough etiquettes, good hand hygiene practices, wear masks and maintain physical distance from others. Hand washing is often promoted to reduce the transmission of bacteria and infections through handshake. But it is not possible to practice hand washing after each hand contact. One way to limit the spread of germs and reduce the transmission of disease, especially at medical facilities, is to establish handshake-free zones.

The paper looks at various traditional forms of greetings practiced the world over, and the ‘Salaam Namaste’ Campaign includes a series of activities such as distribution of information, education, communication (IEC) materials, display of posters on major landmarks, broadcasting of information through FM radio, competitions, slogan writing competitions, etc. Various methods were used to promote the campaign at the institutional level and displayed on the digital information panel and disseminated in major events and platforms organised by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. Dr Goel said keeping in view the high incidence of Covid-19, it would be a good idea to share some more hygienic ways of greeting someone, adding that hands-free greetings should not be a knee-jerk response rather a sustainable behaviour to prevent illnesses.

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