The deadly coronavirus has wrecked havoc across all nations in the world and has been declared a pandemic. While at present there is no vaccine for the virus, scientists and researchers have proposed a few factors that can certainly reduce its spread. One of these factors is personal hygiene, which involves washing your hands thoroughly.
Today, Google remembers German Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis – widely considered the first physician to discuss the benefits of handwashing – with a wonderful animated doodle. The doodle also lays out the six essential steps to washing hands thoroughly.
It was today in 1847 that Semmelweis was appointed as the Chief Resident in the maternity clinic of the Vienna General Hospital. This was where he discovered the benefits of handwashing and concluded that washing hands thoroughly by doctors was an important step in delivering babies and reducing mortality rates among pregnant women.
Who was Ignaz Semmelweis?
Born on 1st July 1818 in Hungary, Semmelweis was a pioneer of antiseptic procedures. He received his doctor’s degree in 1844 and was soon appointed to the obstetric clinic in Vienna. It was here that he began getting involved in finding solutions to the problem of puerperal infection, which occurs when bacteria infect the uterus and the surrounding areas after a woman gives birth.
He observed a strange but an important fact during his time at the clinic – the death rate from childbed fever among women in the first division of the clinic was twice to thrice higher than that of women in the second division. This was strange considering that the two divisions were identical, except for one factor – students were taught in the first division whereas midwives were taught in the second.
Semmelweis presumed that the students carried some infection to the patients in the first division. With more research and study, he concluded that the students that came directly from the dissecting room after performing autopsies and other operations to the maternity ward carried the infection from mothers that had died of the illness to healthy mothers.
Subsequently, he ordered all the students to wash their hands thoroughly in a chlorinated lime solution before entering into the maternity ward for examination.
Remarkably, this procedure brought down the mortality rates in the first division of the clinic from a massive 18 percent to a mere 1 percent.
In 1861, Semmelweis published his principal work, Die Ätiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfiebers (The Etiology, Concept, and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever).
Unfortunately, during his lifetime, his ideas were not accepted by other scientists and his contemporaries. It was only much later, after his death in 1865, that Semmelweis got his due and his doctrine gradually began to be accepted in the scientific community.
Today, he is widely considered as the ‘Father of Infection Control’ and is credited with having reformed not just the field of obsterics but also the field of medical science.
Watch the video to understand the six essential steps to washing your hands thoroughly. Do you follow them?