October 15 marks the annual Global Handwashing Day, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases. Building on a hugely successful inaugural Global Handwashing Day in 2008 – in which over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries, this year it is anticipated that millions of children across five continents will celebrate Global Handwashing Day again.
Around the world, children, teachers, parents, celebrities, and government officials plan to mobilize and motivate millions to lather up in order to reduce life-threatening diseases, such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections.
Let’s keep the world healthy by becoming Champion Handwashers!
Children suffer disproportionately from diarrheal diseases – with more than 3.5 million children under five dying every year from diarrhea and pneumonia-related diseases. The simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea rates among children under five by almost 50 per cent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.
Under the slogan “Clean hands save lives”, the driving theme for Global Handwashing Day is children and schools. Children acting as agents of change, take the good practices of hygiene learned at school back into their homes and communities. The active participation and involvement of children, along with culturally sensitive community-based interventions aim at ensuring sustained behavioral change.
Handwashing with soap – particularly at critical moments, including after using the toilet and before handling food – is a key cost effective and life-saving intervention. Research in several developing countries illustrates that lack of soap is usually not the barrier – with the vast majority of even poor households having soap at home – rather, the problem is that soap is rarely used for handwashing.
Global Handwashing Day was initiated in 2008 by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap, and it is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe. Everyone can get involved in this year’s Global Handwashing Day celebrations. For further information, please visit