“Clean hands save lives” – Global Handwashing Day 2011 is celebrated by millions of people worldwide

 

“Clean hands save lives” – Global Handwashing Day 2011 is celebrated by millions of people worldwide

Global News 00:38

Children wave flags at the Global Handwashing Day in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India. Tom Sampson/UNICEF Oct 09NEW YORK/ HONG KONG, 14 October 2011 – UNICEF joins hundreds of millions of people across the globe tomorrow in celebrating the 4th annual Global Handwashing Day, emphasising the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective, simple, and affordable way to prevent disease.

A number of exciting events are taking place for the 2011 celebration of Global Handwashing Day on 15 October. Teachers, parents, celebrities and government officials are motivating millions to lather up to prevent life-threatening diseases such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.

Schoolboys wash thier hands at a ceremony to celerbate Global Handwashing Day. Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India. Tom Sampson/UNICEF Oct 09In Afghanistan, 1.7 million children from 1,700 schools will wash hands; in Eritrea, 326,809 children in 1,272 schools will do the same. In Peru, the government has declared a national handwashing week as of 10 October, and events will involve 3.5 million students in 20,000 schools. Eight million children in Rajasthan, India, and over 1 million children in Pakistan will also participate in handwashing events. These and other activities promise to surpass celebrations in 2010, which saw 200 million people and 700,000 schools in over 70 countries honouring the day.

These events are aimed at spreading a life-saving message: clean hands save lives. UNICEF estimates that diarrhoea kills 1.1 million children every year, and pneumonia-related illnesses take another 1.2 million child lives. Handwashing with soap prevents disease in a more straightforward and cost-effective way than any single vaccine.

The simple act of washing hands with soap at critical moments – such as after using the toilet or before handling food – is an easy and affordable intervention that can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea among children under five by almost 50 per cent, and cut respiratory infections by as much as 25 per cent.
Schoolboys wash thier hands at a ceremony to celerbate Global Handwashing Day. Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India. Tom Sampson/UNICEF Oct 09

“Soap is not in short supply, even in developing countries,” said Therese Dooley, UNICEF’s Senior Adviser for Hygiene and Sanitation. “The vast majority of poor households have soap in the home. The problem is that soap is used for laundry or bathing, but rarely for handwashing.” Dooley added that UNICEF would like to ensure handwashing with soap becomes a social norm in all countries.

Governments around the world have now adopted Global Handwashing Day as a national celebration, wanting the event to be more than just a day, and to ensure that handwashing with soap is promoted throughout the year. In 2010, for example, all schools –18 million children –across Bangladesh, participated in mass handwashing demonstrations on October 15. The events were used as a platform to launch the Bangladesh government’s National Hygiene Campaign which aims to change the way the country uses soap, and in particular to promote its use in handwashing.

(left to right) Mr. Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative, Bangladesh, Anwar Hossain Sikder, Acting Country Director, Plan Bangladesh, Md. Nuruzzaman, Chief Engineer, Department of Public Health Engineering, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, State Minister, MO Local Government, Rural development and Cooperatives, Mr. Monzur Hossain, Secretary Local Government division, and Col. Kamruzzaman Khan, Principal, Dhaka Residential Model College, begin the hand washing at the Dhaka Residential Model School and College field, Dhaka, Bangladesh on the occasion of Global Hand Washing Day 2010, on 20 October 2010. More than fifty thousand students from different educational institutions on Wednesday assembled at the Residential Model School and College in the city and pledged to wash their hands with soap as part of the observance of Global Hand washing Day 2010. Students from primary and secondary schools including madrasas took part in the one-day event to celebrate the third Global Hand Washing Day.  According to a report by UNICEF and WHO , Bangladesh is among the 10 countries in the world that report the largest number of child deaths due to diarrhea. A total of 50,800 children under the age of five years die every year in Bangladesh from diarrheal diseases. The death toll worldwide is 3.5 million. Research shows that washing hands with soap is a highly cost-effective health practice that can reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by over 40 per cent. But, despite its life-saving potential, effective handwashing is seldom practiced as many people do not use soap and only wash one hand. Global Handwashing Day was launched in 2008 as a public-private partnership with Unilever, UNICEF and Governments as key players. The partnership is now endorsed by 13 international and national organizations. Although the world celebrated the day on the 15th of October, Bangladesh is observing it on the 20th since the 15th was a public holiday. Children from a various schools show their clean hands after washing them with soap at the Dhaka Residential Model School and College field, Dhaka, Bangladesh on the occasion of Global Hand Washing Day 2010, on 20 October 2010.More than fifty thousand students gathered at the Residential Model School and College and pledged to wash their hands with soap. By making the pledge, children are making a promise to themselves and their communities to always practice good hygiene and help to reduce the occurrence of diarrheal diseases. The children demonstrated hand washing with soap along with dignitaries including the State Minister of the Local Government Division, Jahangir Kabir Nanok, UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy, and other partners.  According to a report by UNICEF and WHO , Bangladesh is among the 10 countries in the world that report the largest number of child deaths due to diarrhea. A total of 50,800 children under the age of five years die every year in Bangladesh from diarrheal diseases. The death toll worldwide is 3.5 million. Research shows that washing hands with soap is a highly cost-effective health practice that can reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by over 40 per cent. But, despite its life-saving potential, effective handwashing is seldom practiced as many people do not use soap and only wash one hand. Global Handwashing Day was launched in 2008 as a public-private partnership with Unilever, UNICEF and Governments as key players. The partnership is now endorsed by 13 international and national organizations. Although the world celebrated the day on the 15th of October, Bangladesh is observing it on the 20th since the 15th was a public holiday.

“We are happy that this year other countries are following Bangladesh’s example,” Dooley says. “While we adults are always trying to discourage bad habits in children, the good habit of handwashing with soap is one we want every child to develop.”

About Global Handwashing Day:

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on October 15. The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap initiated Global Handwashing Day in 2008, and it is endorsed by governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe. Please visit www.globalhandwashingday.org

Please click here to view the press release and related photos of
Global Handwashing Day Campaign in Hong Kong

Please click here to visit to official webpage of
Global Handwashing Day Campaign in Hong Kong