Raising a Hand for Hygiene: Global Handwashing Day 2015

How often do you wash your hands with soap in a day? 

If you are reading this article, chances are you do it quite regularly. But for the billions of people around the world who don’t have access to clean water or sanitation, the answer can be drastically different.

Today, October 15th, the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing is celebrating its annual Global Handwashing Day, dedicated to educating people about the benefits of washing hands with soap. Every year, the organization encourages people to find creative ways to advocate for the cause. This year’s theme is Raising a Hand for Hygiene.

We hope this post can help spread the message of Global Handwashing Day and provide critical information about the importance of handwashing in preventing disease and saving lives.

Many people do wash their hands with water, but soap is often missing in their routine. Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea (1). This adaptation would be monumental because diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five (2).

Goal Six of the United Nation’s newly released Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, is focused on Clean Water & Sanitation. It is important to build connections between every facet of health because they all play a part in a person’s health and wellness. Similar to how the Four Horizons are related to one another, handwashing can impact education, health, economic development, etc.

When we travel to an area that has a need for BioSand Filters, we also educate local residents about proper hygiene practices to use in conjunction with their newfound access to clean water. This educative aspect is important because without also adopting good hygiene practices, residents will still be highly susceptible to bacterial illnesses. We teach that handwashing should include soap and be done for at least 20 seconds, after using the bathroom and before cooking/eating. Combining clean water with hygiene education leads to kids spending more time in school and less time sick at home or in the hospital. Families pay less money on medical bills treating diarrhea, and overall, the community is healthier, safer, and happier!

Global Handwashing Day asks all of us to further its message. You can do this by: creating a social media post with the hashtag #GlobalHandwashingDay and by checking out the resources we have listed below and sharing what you learn with your friends, family, and colleagues!

Handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, and affordable do-it-yourself vaccine that prevents infections and saves lives (3).  

Here are more resources about handwashing:

Why Handwashing?

Behavior Change

Get Involved with Raising Handwashing Awareness

Lack of access to hygiene could endanger new Development Agenda – UNICEF

(1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
(2) World Health Organization, 2013. Diarrhoeal disease
(3) The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing, 2015. Why Handwashing