I have to admit that the last two weeks have been bittersweet.  I try my best to post regularly here and keep up the support for #handhygiene and #TeamHygiene on Twitter. But lately, I’ve been lured and perhaps even seduced into turning off the computer and venturing out into…dare I say it…

The Real World.

It started just after filming of the Bollywood hand hygiene campaign, which, I should add should be launched in the next few days.  If you haven’t seen the teaser, then check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWRCVIoXXkI

Almost immediately, the calls came from all over North America and Europe.  Ironically, the callers didn’t focus on the campaign, except perhaps to comment on the uniqueness and cuteness of the video. Instead, the callers wanted to know more about the world of germs and how to use hand hygiene to keep everyone safe.

First, there was the recent article on the contamination of dispensers, thanks in part to an article by the people at GOJO.  The article clearly explained that hands were worse off if contaminated soap was used.  But the link to dispensers becoming contaminated was a key message that unfortunately received much attention.  Yet, if you read from the discussion of the paper:

Epidemiological studies of the causal relationship between contaminated soap and disease would be very useful to quantify the risk; however, they may be impractical to execute. 

Essentially, there is no associated risk known and it would be quite difficult to find a way to make such an association.  And yet, they add:

The lack of such study data, however, should not preclude proactive efforts to reduce the unnecessary public health risks posed by open bulk-soap-refillable dispensers. 

Lines like that are a touch frustrating to read because they follow the Donald Rumsfeld mentality.  We know something that we don’t know so we should be doing all we can to prevent doing something for which we don’t know the outcome.

Er…

Perhaps this is a better analogy: they suggest that using open bulk-refillable dispensers is about as bad as the dawn of New Coke or the band KISS

without the makeup.

The fact is that there should be no concern over the use of soap for handwashing.  And, if you are concerned about post-handwashing contamination, then just add some hand sanitizer with alcohol of between 62-80% and keep it for a good 30 seconds and you’re good to go.

Phew!

The next came from the guys at Healthy Men Today.  They have a mission of not only sharing information but also engaging people to ensure that they not only know the facts, but also do something about it.  They call it the ATTACK model.

We went back and forth a few times and essentially came up with a two-part series that focuses on hand hygiene and how important it is in to health.  What I really liked about the interview was that they wanted to get into the actual day to day activities rather than the concept of claims and contact times.  Following the same lines as the Bollywood campaign, they want to show when and where rather than why:  that should be a given.

I invite you to read the article’s first part and let them know what you think.  And just for the record, on a personal note, I’ve always been a fan of Anne Rice’s vampire series so for me, the title just kicks it like Axl did back in the day.

After the success of the interviews, I had to find my formal ties and suits for two incredible gala events to which I was honoured to be invited and attend.

The first was the Canadian Nurses Foundation Nightingale Gala which celebrates nurses and the excellence of nursing research.  I was a guest of the President-Elect, Barbara Mildon, and was graced by the presence of several generations of nurses, researchers and passionate advocates.  I met some wonderful people and shared with them the vision of the Germ Guy and they in turn had well thought out questions for me that truly form the base of health and hygiene today.

So cool!

There is a hunger for more information on how to best improve health for everyone, not just the sick.  And perhaps the nurse is the cornerstone of everyone’s health.  As was mentioned so eloquently at the gala:

…a nurse is usually the first person to touch us and in many cases, the last as well.

My mother, who you probably see commenting here on a regular basis, has always impressed upon me that when it comes to health, I should always think like a nurse.  After all, they are the ones that keep people healthy.  It’s an interesting mentality that I hope to develop over the next while from a marketing perspective.  Perhaps some people will join me to develop a campaign to demonstrate the importance of nurses in our world.

From nurses to the next generation of researchers…

The following night I was excited to attend The Ottawa Evening 2011.  This gala, made possible by Partners in Research, celebrated the importance of research in our world and takes time to recognize the students in high school and in university who represent the next generation of research.  The main recipient of the program is the Virtual Researcher On Call or VROC program that links up one generation of researchers with younger generations to link the goals of research and knowledge through the 4th dimension.

The gala was hosted by my colleague and wonderful mentor to so many media up and comers, Carol Anne Meehan.  Carol Anne personifies the support we all need to give to our next generation and couldn’t have been a better choice to direct the evening.

The real highlight for me was the recognition of the science fair winners and more importantly, the titles of their projects.  The research that some of they young scientists accomplished was amazing albeit hard to say.  And my little germy heart beated a little faster when I heard that one of the winners investigated probiotics as they relate to human health.

Yay!

I spoke with one of the organizers and it was even more enriching to hear of the world that is science for today’s youth.  While there are still volcanoes about (although now they feature Diet Coke and Mentos instead of vinegar and baking soda), science fairs have become launching pads for research careers.  There is more interaction between students and researchers and whether it be through co-operative education or some other route, mentoring continues to be strong.  And I’m happy to say that germs will play a significant role in the future of research.

As you can see, it’s been a wild ride over the last two weeks and it’s not going to slow down anytime soon.  There is much more to come and I am completely excited.  Details will follow and I’ll do my best to keep up.  After all, Social Media is the area that I love and in which I will continue to learn, grow and cherish.  Yet by the same respect I do have to say that based on my experiences…

The Real World isn’t really all that bad.

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