Amidst Coronavirus(COVID19) outbreak, major health organisations like WHO or CDC are making sure to pass on the only the information that is correct and vital. Handwashing is one of the most important prevention method coming to use in the current situation. This reminds us of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician and scientist, who is known to discover the benefits of handwashing. He was the early pioneer of antiseptic procedures and has been known famously as the "saviour of mothers". Google dedicated its doodle to him that includes a caricature of him and an illustration of washing hands.

There are many feathers in his cap. Semmelweis didn't just discover the benefits of handwashing but also found out that the cases of puerperal fever (also known as "childbed fever") that were widely rampant the mid-19-century can be contained majorly just by the use of hand disinfectent in obstetrical clinics. Born in Tabán, a neighbourhood of Buda, Hungary (today part of Budapest) on 1 July 1818, Semmelweis's hypothesis, that cleanliness was of prime importance and that it was largely ignored at that time, saved many lives.

At that time many deaths were caused by Puerperal fever. It was extremely common and not many had the solution for it. Semmelweis proposed that washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions in Vienna General Hospital's First Obstetrical Clinic. It is said that the doctors' wards' mortality of midwives' wards was threefold at that time. However, he soon published his findings in Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever. He is till date remembered as the scientist who found out the importance of hand-washing that has become imperative in today's world. Semmelweis's death was quite unfortunate as he died of the same disease that he fought for all his life. He suffered a mental breakdown and died very soon.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 20, 2020 08:57 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website