October the 15th will mark Global Handwashing Day, an event established in 2008 that brings attention and awareness to the importance of improving handwashing habits.
A global advocacy day, Handwashing Day is celebrated in more than 70 countries, with schools, workplaces and other institutions often getting involved to educate and motivate people to employ improved handwashing behaviour.
This year, the theme that Global Handwashing Day will focus on is that of the connections that there are between handwashing and food hygiene. The idea is to encourage people to get into the habit of washing their hands with soap before preparing food, cooking food, eating food, and once again after they have finished eating.
Why Global Handwashing Day was initiated?
Global Handwashing Day was initiated in order to reduce the mortality rates of children around the world, who die as a result of respiratory and diarrheal diseases contracted due to poor hygiene. Studies have shown that the child mortality rates caused by these diseases can be cut by 25% and 50% respectively just by regular handwashing with soap.
Pneumonia, a respiratory disease caused by inflammation of the lungs, and diarrhoea account for more than 3.5 million child deaths across the world each year. This is a number that the Global Handwashing Day Partnership (GHP) aims to bring down, through raising awareness all over the world, and helping to teach the importance of handwashing.
As well as these serious illnesses, good handwashing habits can also help to prevent the spread of common illnesses like the flu and airborne coughs, as well as noroviruses, other stomach bugs, and infections often found within hospitals – like MRSA and E.coli.
Building good habits
Since its inception in 2008, Global Handwashing Day has hit the news for all the right reasons on numerous occasions. One such example is that is back in 2014, when Madhya Pradesh in India earned a Guinness World Record when just under 1.3 million children simultaneously washed their hands.
Aimed primarily at schools and organisations, Handwashing Day aims to make the day as fun as possible for children, as they learn the importance of getting into good handwashing habits.
How can you get involved?
Schools, groups, businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes can get involved with Global Handwashing Day, hosting an event to help motivate people to wash their hands. On their website, you will be able to get tips and advice on what to do for your event, some additional resources that you can use to educate people, as well as what their core focus is going to be for 2018.
Let’s help cut child deaths around the globe with the simple message that washing our hands with soap is something that we should be doing on a regular basis. Make it a habit to keep disease at bay – from pneumonia to the common cold.