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Tropical plant Moringa provides for good handwashing material

21 February 2014

Handwashing with soap could save hundreds of thousands of lives each year by safeguarding people against diseases transmitted through contaminated hands, including diarrhoea which is the second biggest killer of under five year olds. Handwashing products that are both readily available and effective could be useful in encouraging increased handwashing with soap in settings where such diseases contribute significantly to the disease burden. SHARE-funded research has found that moringa oleifera, a plant found in many tropical and subtropical countries, whose antibacterial activity against different pathogens has been described in different in vitro settings, can be an effective handwashing product if used in the correct concentration.

By testing the effect of Moringa oleifera leaf powder on hands artificially contaminated with E. coli and comparing this to the effect of non-medicated liquid soap, the researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that four grams of Moringa oleifera powder had the same effect as non-medicated soap when used for hand washing. The findings of the study have been published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal.

Access the journal paper here

Read an interview with lead researcher Dr Belen Torondel