NEW YORK/GENEVA/HONG KONG (14 October 2010) – On 15 October, more than 200 million school children, parents, teachers, celebrities and government officials around the world will lather up for the third annual Global Handwashing Day, but they aim to have more than just clean hands.
This year the theme of Global Handwashing Day – more than just a day – aims to make the simple, life-saving practice of washing hands a regular habit. Global Handwashing Day partners are promoting this behavioural change not only by organising activities in more than 80 countries to raise awareness of the benefits of handwashing, but by ensuring that schools and communities have the support they need to make the practice routine. The Global Handwashing Day will bring together a broad alliance of children, teachers, Government ministries, private corporations, the media, civil society organisations and the UN.
Each year, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children under the age of five. Washing hands with soap and water especially at the critical times — after using the toilet and before handling food — helps reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent, and the incidence of acute respiratory infections by around 23 per cent, yet this simple behaviour may not be practiced regularly.
Irene Chan, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF said, “Each day, 9,600 children die of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections around the world. Handwashing with soap and water can drastically decrease the number of these unfortunate cases. In recent years, Hong Kong has been suffering from infectious diseases such as SARS, Swine flu and Hand,FootandMouthDisease. The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF urges the general public to take precaution and regularly practise this effective and affordable health intervention.”
Several studies carried out during the 2006 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) suggest that washing hands more than 10 times a day can cut the spread of the respiratory virus by 55 per cent. Across China, more than 270,000 children in almost 600 schools are expected to take part in handwashing promotional activities between 10 and 15 October.
Please download the photo release from the link below: http://www.unicef.org.hk/photorelease/GHD.zip
For more information: www.globalhandwashingday.org
GHD theme video: http://www.globalhandwashingday.org/GHD_Video.asp