Global Handwashing Day is celebrated each year on October 15. Global Hand Washing Day is dedicated to increase the awareness and understand about the importance of washing the hands with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
Global Handwashing Day was firstly initiated by the Global Handwashing Partnership and is an opportunity to design and repeat different ways to motivate people to wash their hands with soaps at critical times.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since 2008, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about Handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals.
The theme of Global Handwashing Day in 2017 is “Our hands, our future!” This theme reminds us that Handwashing protects our own health, but also allows us to build our own futures, as well as those of our communities, and the world. Handwashing is an affordable and an effective way to achieve these goals, by having the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and communities, and reduce inequities. Promoting the benefits and practice of Handwashing with soap, as well as fostering access to and improving hygiene facilities will help us work towards a future where that potential is realized.
Hand washing with soap is an extremely effective and the most inexpensive way to prevent Diarrhea and Acute respiratory infections. Pneumonia is the number one cause of mortality among children under five years old, taking the life of an estimated 1.8 million children per year. Diarrhea and pneumonia together account for almost 3 million child deaths annually. Handwashing with soap is estimated to reduce incidents of diarrhea by 30% and respiratory infections by 21% in children under the age of five.
According to the Public Health Association of India, only 50% of people in India wash hands after defecation, 38% wash hands before eating and only 30% wash hands before preparing food. Many people don’t wash their hands, because they believe that hands that look clean cannot make them sick.
Many people also have a belief that water alone is sufficient to remove visible dirt from hands. As part of Global Handwashing Day a five-step handwashing technique, developed in Tamil Nadu state, is being taught to school children around the country.
What are the benefits of handwashing with soap?
Each year, diarrheal diseases and pneumonia together kill 2 million children under five in developing countries. Children from the poorest 20 percent of households are more than 10 times as likely to die as children from the richest 20 percent of households. Hands are the principal carriers of disease causing germs: if widely practiced - and based on scientific research and intensively monitored trials at both household and school levels - it is estimated that and handwashing with soap could avert one million of those deaths. Washing hands with soap after using the toilet or cleaning a child and before handling food can reduce rates of diarrheal disease by nearly one-half and rates of respiratory infection by about one-quarter. Handwashing can also prevent skin infections, eye infections, intestinal worms, SARS, and avian flu. It can also benefit people living with HIV/AIDS.
Why isn’t it enough to rinse hands with water alone?
The more common practice of rinsing hands with water alone is significantly less effective than washing hands with soap. Fecal pathogens lodge in the natural oils of hands, and water alone will not dislodge them. Using soap adds to the time spent washing, removes the oils carrying most germs, and leaves hands smelling pleasant. The clean smell and feeling that soap creates is an incentive for its use.
What are the “critical moments” when hands should be washed with soap?
Hands should be washed with soap after using the toilet or cleaning a child’s bottom and before handling food – e.g., before cooking, eating, and feeding a child.
Is antibacterial soap better than regular soap at stopping the spread of disease?
With proper use, all kind of soaps are equally effective at removing the germs that cause diarrheal disease and respiratory infections.