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Ignaz Semmelweis, the pioneering doctor behind hand-washing

The pioneering doctor behind hand-washing
The pioneering doctor behind hand-washing 01:35

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when hand-washing, even for doctors, wasn't considered part of basic hygiene. That is, until one man sounded the alarm.

You have to hand it to Ignaz Semmelweis, the 19th-century Hungarian doctor. For it was Semmelweis who determined, after studying maternity ward deaths, that it was hand-washing by doctors that could make all the difference between life and death.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865), of Hungary, proposed health care workers wash their hands with an antiseptic to reduce infections - an idea antithetical to medical thinking of the day.  CBS News

Far from welcoming his insight, though, fellow doctors rejected it ... and Semmelweis went on to die in an insane asylum, of sepsis, the very thing he'd devoted himself to fighting.

Later generations came to recognize the truth of his discovery, and of course the need for thorough hand-washing has never been more important than now.

We're told that we should scrub our hands for at least 20 seconds ... that is roughly the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" from beginning to end, twice.

And a handwashing music video from Vietnam has become something of an international internet sensation:

View this post on Instagram

#ghencovychallenge #handwashingmove #coronahanddance #VuDieuRuaTay 🌏 Because more international friends are coming to this post so I will change this to English for everyone: COVID-2019 disease is spreading, affecting people and social activities. Regular handwashing is considered a simple and effective method to protect the community from diseases (according to the World Health Organization). According to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 78% of people say they wash their hands often but only 25% actually wash their hands after going to the toilet, 20% wash their hands before cooking. To spread the habit of washing your hands to prevent this disease, I invite you to take part in the #ghencovychallenge challenge with me. Game rules: You perform the dance of the song Ghen Co Vy with 6 hand washing movements as recommended by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health, based on the music song COVID-19 prevention - Jealousy, cooperation between Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health, musician Khac Hung, singer Min and singer Erik. Take this challenge or share the following epidemic prevention habits: 1. Wash your hands often with soap or an antiseptic solution. 2. Do not put hands on eyes, nose and mouth. 3. Regularly clean personal hygiene, hygiene of utensils, houses and surroundings. 4. Wear a mask to go to public places, on vehicles or when you are sick. 5. Self-awareness to improve health for themselves, the family and the community. 6. People with symptoms of COVID-19 have high fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc. or close contact with infected person / person suspected of COVID-19 and limit contact with other people and contact local health facilities. After completing the challenge, SHARE + TAG immediately 2 friends want to join this challenge. ✌ 🌐 for news reporters and press who want to use my video, please feel free to do so. 🌐 for people want to dance my choreography, please feel free to do so, it's all yours 🌐 join hands to spread this extremely useful message! 😉 #handwashdance #handwashingdance

A post shared by Quang Đăng (@im.quangdang) on

So, soap up!

For more info:

Story produced by Robert Marston. Editor: David Bhagat.

See also:

Or do what Gloria Gaynor does:

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