Global Handwashing Day 2016

Raise a hand for hygiene this Saturday, October 15!


13 Oct 2016 | AU

This Saturday, October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a day dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives.

Frequently overlooked, hygiene, and in particular handwashing, can make a massive difference to the health and well-being of the global population. Hands are the principal carriers of disease-causing germs and its estimated that if handwashing with soap was widely practised, approximately 230,000 lives could be saved globally each year! 

When hygiene is poor, diseases can spread through food, water, flies, commonly used items and surfaces. When you consider that a single gram of human faeces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria, it’s easy to see how even a tiny amount of excreta left on hands could be easily transferred and cause illness and disease in many others.

Handwashing with soap, when practised properly and regularly, could cut the risk of diarrhoea almost in half and of pneumonia by a third.  With diarrhoea being the second biggest killer of children under five years old worldwide and a major underlying cause of under-nutrition, we see this simple, low cost and accessible act as a ‘do-it-yourself life-saver’ that is a vital component of our work.  Without it, the benefits of safe and sustainable water and sanitation services will be undermined. 

Hygiene practices like this are integrated into everything WaterAid does, and forms part of our three-pronged approach alongside water and sanitation to support overcoming extreme poverty.  Alongside women’s organisations, health, education and marketing partners, we are delivering effective campaigns to improve hygiene practices in more than 37 countries around the world.

Even the World Bank acknowledges that hand washing with soap is one of the single most cost-effective ways a country can help its people stay healthy and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals lists hygiene practice as a key indicator of progress towards eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

Good hygiene, together with safe water and sanitation, can transform people’s health, education and livelihoods. So raise a hand for handwashing on October 15, it may just save a life!