Global Handwashing Day - 15th October

Global Handwashing Day was originally created for children and schools, but can be celebrated by anyone promoting handwashing with soap.
Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals.
The day was established to
  • foster and support a global culture of handwashing with soap,
  • shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in every country,
  • raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.

  • Why Handwashing?

    Handwashing with soap is a “do-it-yourself vaccine” that prevents infections and saves lives.

    Here is why: Human feces are the main source of diarrheal pathogens. They are the source of shigellosis, typhoid, cholera, all other common endemic gastro-enteric infections and some respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia. A single gram of human feces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria.
    These pathogens are passed from an infected host to a new one via various routes but all of these illnesses emanate from feces. Removing excreta and cleaning hands with soap after contact with fecal material – from using the toilet or cleaning a child – prevents the transmission of the bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause diarrheal diseases.
    Other measures (food handling, water purification, and fly control) have an impact on these diseases as well, but sanitation and handwashing provide the necessary protection against fecal contact. They start by creating initial barriers to fecal pathogens from reaching the domestic environment. Handwashing with soap stops the transmission of disease agents and so can significantly reduce diarrhea and respiratory infections, and may impact skin and eye infections.
    Research shows that children living in households exposed to handwashing promotion and soap had half the diarrheal rates of children living in control neighborhoods. Because handwashing can prevent the transmission of a variety of pathogens, it may be more effective than any single vaccine. Promoted on a wide enough scale, handwashing with soap can be thought of as a “do-it-yourself” vaccine because it is easy, effective, and affordable. Ingraining the habit of handwashing could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention.

    The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) is a coalition of international stakeholders whose focus is handwashing and child health.

    Established in 2001, the partnership aims to give families, schools, and communities in developing countries the power to prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections by supporting the universal promotion and practice of proper handwashing with soap at critical times.
    Many global and national organizations are committed to promoting handwashing with soap on a large scale, including:
    • Governments that support national programs to promote handwashing.
    • Donor organizations that increasingly include handwashing in their water, sanitation, health, and education programs.
    • The private sector that brings state-of-the-art marketing know-how and techniques to the table, as well as support at the national level.
    • Academic and scientific organizations that contribute the latest behavior change theory and scientific evidence of the effectiveness of handwashing.
    • Non-governmental and community-based organizations that aim to promote handwashing programs and integrate them into their work agenda.
    The PPPHW works explicitly to promote handwashing with soap and recognizes that hygiene, sanitation, and water are pillars of development.
    Source: http://globalhandwashing.org/

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