A global call to action to make handwashing a priority in policy and practice
Every year on October 15th, the world commemorates Global Handwashing Day. The Global Handwashing Partnership established the day, which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. It emphasises the necessity of hand washing and proposes “innovative strategies to persuade individuals to wash their hands with soap at important periods.” The first World Handwashing Day was observed in 2008 in more than 70 countries. That year, more than 120 million youngsters from all around the world took part. All of the kids used soap to wash their hands. People have been commemorating the day since then to raise awareness about “washing hands, building sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrating the simplicity and benefit of clean hands.”
While handwashing has always been a good idea before eating, with the current pandemic, it has become a requirement not only before eating but also before touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or face. The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2021 is “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together,” which is in accordance with this. Preventing sickness reduces the number of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds). Antibiotics often are prescribed unnecessarily for these health issues. Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.
Diarrheal illnesses and pneumonia, the world’s top two killers of young children, kill about 1.8 million children under the age of five each year. Handwashing with soap could protect nearly one out of every three young children who acquire diarrhoea and nearly one out of every five young children who get respiratory diseases like pneumonia.