Global Handwashing Day
Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is a campaign to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits by washing their hands with soap at critical moments throughout each day. It takes place on October 15 of each year. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.
The campaign was initiated to reduce childhood mortality rates related respiratory and diarrheal diseases by introducing simple behavioral changes, such as handwashing with soap. This simple, accessible action can, according to research, reduce the rate of mortality from these diseases by almost 25 and 50 per cent, respectively.
Importance of handwashing :
Hand washing with soap is extremely effective and the most inexpensive way to prevent diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARI). Pneumonia, a major ARI, 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 3.5 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.
It is important to turn handwashing into a habit. According to the official site, turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit was projected to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.Handwashing is usually integrated together with other sanitation interventions as part of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes.
GHD helps raise awareness of the importance of washing with soap, but it also makes it fun for children to get involved. Handwashing with soap may seem like a simple behavior, but it is rarely practiced globally. This is due both in part to lack of resources as well as it not being a habit.
Peer influence is significant to seeing increased handwashing among students. In a study conducted in Kenya, researchers found that students were significantly more likely to wash their hands when another student is present. Peer influence is only successful, however, when students know that handwashing is a desirable action.
The aims of Global Handwashing Day are to:
- Foster and support a general culture of handwashing with soap in all societies
- Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in each country
- Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap
Global Handwashing Day was created at the annual World Water Week 2008, which was held in Stockholm from August 17 to 23 and initiated by the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). The first Global Handwashing Day took place on October 15, 2008, the date appointed by the UN General Assembly in accordance with year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation.
If all Global Handwashing Day celebrants advocate for handwashing with soap every day, not just on October 15, we can make significant progress in moving toward the goal of increasing hygiene programs, investment, and behavior.