With hand hygiene now a matter of life and death, perhaps it’s time to watch a musical about the physician who first advised his colleagues to wash their hands.
“There has never been a more urgent moment in history to reflect on the mystery of insight, the tension between truth and hubris, our deadly myopic inertia, and the clear truth that we as a society need our full human participation, our fresh perspectives and brave new ideas, literally to survive,” one of the work’s creators, composer Raymond J. Lustig, who is also a published researcher in molecular biology, said in a news release.
“Semmelweis” is based on the life of Ignác Semmelweis, a 19th century Hungarian obstetrician who championed hand-washing during an 1846 epidemic.
The work had its world premiere in 2018, co-produced by Budapest Operetta Theatre and Bartók Plusz Opera Festival. It’s free to stream online during May, but viewers are encouraged to donate to organizations battling the current pandemic, especially UNICEF USA, Alight and the Semmelweis Foundation.
Dr. Semmelweis worked in Vienna General Hospital’s maternity clinic, the city’s top hospital where he was viewed as an outsider. Many of the clinic’s patients were dying from childbed fever. But Semmelweis discovered that doctors were spreading the disease with their unclean hands.