CUT expert focuses on hand hygiene education

Dr Jane Nkhebenyane, CUT Acting Head of the Department of Life Sciences

A senior employee of the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) has compiled hand hygiene guidelines in addition to spending the past few years promoting handwashing among young school learners as a part of a community engagement project established by CUT.

CUT’s acting Head of the Department of Life Sciences, Dr Jane Nkhebenyane’s passion for hygiene was ignited while she was conducting research for her Master’s degree.

“My Master’s project focused on food safety in hospices and this is where I developed a passion for food safety and hygiene-related research. The project focused on hospice kitchen hygiene assessment and the evaluation of food handlers’ hand hygiene.

Mr Lehlohonolo Qhanya (PhD student), Ms Dineo Mohapi (Masters student) and Dr Chika Chukwuma (Post Doctorate Fellow) who form part of the CUT’s post-graduate students and academics in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences who have produced sanitizers which will be handed over to government for distribution to identified areas, such as hospices, clinics and hospitals

“ It is for this reason that my PhD study, titled ‘Food Hygiene Risks and Related Practices in Central South African HIV/AIDS Hospices’, still focused on the hospices, however, for this project I included the laboratory aspect of microbial analysis and human behaviour regarding food safety and hygiene,” said Dr Nkhebenyane.

During the study, it became evident that food handlers methods were initially not in compliance with regards to hand hygiene. This is when Dr Nkhebenyane developed the hand hygiene guidelines, and started to train hospice food handlers and school learners in this regard.

“Initially we characterised the microbial presence that was found on food preparation surfaces and the hands of food handlers. This was followed by training of the food handlers on hygiene aspects.

“The prevalence of microbial load on the hands of food handlers prior to training was compared with the one after training and the study found that training was effective as evidenced by the reduced microbial load after training,” she said.

Dr Nkhebenyane added that although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands.

“Hand washing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which claim the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year.

“CUT adopted the project when it was launched in 2008 as part of community engagement and this was conducted in partnership with various stakeholders from Free State,” she concluded

Visit:  to read more about Dr Nkhebenyane’s hand washing guidelines.