Global Handwashing Day

Global Handwashing Day will be the centerpiece of a week of activities that will mobilize millions of people across all five continents to wash their hands with soap. Global Handwashing Day will revolve around schools and children. On Global Handwashing Day, playgrounds, classrooms, community centers, and the public spaces of towns and cities will be awash with activity to drive handwashing behavior change on a scale never seen before, bringing the critical issue to center stage.

Of the approximately 120 million children born in the developing world each year, half will live in households without access to improved sanitation, at grave risk to their survival and development. Poor hygiene and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases, accounting for 1.5 million diarrhea-related under-five deaths each year. Children suffer disproportionately from diarrheal and respiratory diseases and deaths. But research shows that children - the segment of society so often the most energetic, enthusiastic, and open to new ideas - can also be powerful agents of behavioral change.

History of Global Handwashing Day

It was made at the annual World Water Week 2008, which was held in Stockholm from August 17 to 23 and initiated the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). 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 campaign was initiated to reduce mortality rates related to diarrhea diseases by introducing simple behavioral changes, such as hand washing with soap, which according to research can reduce the rate by almost 50 per cent. The theme for Global Handwashing Day's inaugural year was Focus on School Children. The members pledged to get the maximum number of school children handwashing with soap in more than 70 countries.

Mission of Global Handwashing Day

Hand washing with soap is the single most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARI), as automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. 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. 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.

Global Handwashing Day in India

In September and October, a mass media campaign was held in India with the support of Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, two hugely popular cricket celebrities.

Almost 1 million school teachers received training courses to execute the campaign and to reach out to about 100 million school children. Materials developed included: posters, teacher training module on handwashing, pamphlet with pledge for students, TV spots and radio jingles, all including 25 seconds central song on the 5 steps for correct handwashing.

The concerned ministers at national and state levels launched the campaign on 15 October by participating in the handwashing activities with children in rural schools. Activities in schools included: children pledging towards hygiene, organized handwashing games and washing hands in a giant waterfall.

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and his teammates joined an estimated 100 million schoolchildren around the country in lathering up for better health and hygiene as part of the first Global Handwashing Day.


"Help More Children Reach Their 5th Birthday"

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