Since 2008, World Handwashing Day is celebrated annually every October 15. 2008 was also designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Sanitation.
Since then, World Handwashing Day aims to extend the best hygiene practices to the entire planet. The practice of washing your hands is common in most parts of the world, but soap is rarely used after critical moments (after using the toilet, cleaning a child’s stool or before handling food).
Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and economical ways to prevent diarrheal and respiratory diseases, which are responsible for ensuring that every year more than 3 million children do not reach 5 years of life. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation, that means 1.5 million deaths a year that could be prevented. According to WHO, washing hands with soap and water would reduce the risk of acute diarrheal diseases by 47 percent.
Incorporating the practice of handwashing with soap in every home in the world could save more lives than any medical intervention. Declaring October 15 as World Handwashing Day also has as another key objective to ensure access to sanitation and drinking water sources throughout the world.
A gesture as simple as washing your hands with soap and water can be key to the survival of millions of people, especially the little ones. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of diarrhea and respiratory infections, diseases that can be easily and cheaply prevented with a little soap and water. This day wants to serve as a reminder of the importance of this practice.
Equitable access to hygiene facilities that allow us to wash our hands with soap helps us build a better future as we move towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Today we celebrate World Handwashing Day, but it is a call to practice it every day; We have a great challenge in converting an idea that is often abstract in an internalized and conscious behavior in homes, schools and communities around the world.
Aspects we should all know about hand washing
Washing your hands only with water is not enough, it is a widespread practice worldwide, but it is much less effective than doing so using soap. The soap favors rubbing, gives off a smell and produces a pleasant sensation that encourages its use.
Different medical studies have confirmed that washing your hands with soap is an effective way to prevent disease transmission even in impoverished settlements with high levels of pollution. Skin or eye infections, intestinal parasites, different types of flu and even a health improvement for people with HIV / AIDS are possible with proper hand washing.
There are critical times of the day when it is mandatory to wash your hands with soap: after using the bathroom, when coming into contact with feces or before handling food. The hands are the main carriers of germs that cause disease.
Washing your hands is the most effective and cheap health or hygiene intervention in the world.
A final key aspect of World Handwashing Day is to turn children into “handwash ambassadors” nationwide in all countries. Involving children in these activities can be a real factor of change to absolutely establish this practice worldwide.