Global Handwashing Day is a worldwide advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.
Handwashing is essential for strong healthcare systems. In a survey of healthcare facilities in 54 countries, the World Health Organization and UNICEF recently found that 35% did not have soap and water for handwashing. This represents a serious risk to both patients and healthcare providers. Good hygiene is necessary for good nutrition, particularly for children in the first 1,000 days of life. And, handwashing stations in schools can both help reduce absenteeism and enable girls to manage their menstrual cycles safely and with dignity.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme is to ‘Make Handwashing a Habit’.
Here are five reasons* to make handwashing with soap an everyday habit:
1.Handwashing with soap is a “do-it-yourself vaccine” that, when practiced properly and regularly, can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea among children under five by nearly 50% and respiratory infections by nearly 25%.
2. Handwashing with soap is a cost-effective disease prevention solution – a $3.35USD ($4.44AUD) investment in handwashing promotion brings the same health benefits as an $11USD ($14.56AUD) investment in latrine construction, a $200USD ($265AUD) investment in household water supply, and an investment of thousands of dollars in immunizations.
3. Everyone can prevent disease and improve health with handwashing – One person’s clean hands prevent disease transmission to others; a whole family’s can significantly improve their health and reduce incidence of common illnesses; an entire classroom, office, or community with clean hands effectively stops disease in its tracks.
4. Water alone is not enough to always dislodge grease and dirt, and when the grease and dirt stays on your hands, so do the germs. Soap breaks down germ carrying grease and dirt and facilitates rubbing and friction.
5. Human faeces is the main source of the germs that cause diarrhoea and pneumonia and a single gram can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria. Soap helps kill many types of bacteria and viruses; critical moments for handwashing with soap are after using the toilet or cleaning a child, and before handling food.
The founders of Global Handwashing Day, the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) and its partner organizations including Soap Aid, encourage everyone to join in this celebration empowering people everywhere to save lives and contribute to healthy, prosperous communities through choosing handwashing with soap, both on Global Handwashing Day and beyond.
For more information and ideas of how you can celebrate, visit www.globalhandwashing.org or download Soap Aid’s ‘how’ and ‘when’ to wash your hands educational resources here, and share with your family, your office, your school, your sports club or anywhere where handwashing does or should happen!
Download Global Hand Washing day Media Release here: Global Hand Washing Day Media Release