Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhoeal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, handwashing with soap is seldom practised and difficult to promote. The challenge is to transform handwashing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. A vast change in handwashing behaviour is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.
Global Handwashing Day is observed every year on 15th October every year in an effort to raise awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention. As a campaign it aims to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at the critical occasions. More handwashing with soap means lower rates of infectious disease: Clean Hands Save Lives! Initiated in 2008 by the Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW). Members of the PPPHW include the World Bank and Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), host of the PPPHW; the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Procter & Gamble; Unilever; the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC); the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); Johns Hopkins University (JHU); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe.
The Global Handwashing Day took place for the first time on October 15, 2008, the date appointed by UN General Assembly in accordance with year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. The theme for Global Handwashing Day’s inaugural year was Focus on School Children. In each country where activities are planned, a convening institution brings together other organizations that have an interest in handwashing to coordinate activities. The members pledged to get the maximum number of school children handwashing with soap in more than 70 countries. Activities on this day include Radio campaigns, Photo contest, Posters that illustrate key messages about handwashing, Essay contests for older children, Rhyme/poetry contests, Drama/plays etc.
Alternate Name - UN's World Hand Washing Day, World Hand Washing Day
Holiday Status - It is not a Holiday.