Handwashing saves lives

Hygienic practices such as handwashing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by half. With diarrhoea being the second biggest killer of children under five years old worldwide, Global Handwashing Day on 15 October is a day dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

News

14 Oct 2015 | AU

Hygienic practices such as handwashing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by half. With diarrhoea being the second biggest killer of children under five years old worldwide, Global Handwashing Day on 15 October is a day dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

“1,400 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. Handwashing can save lives. Good hygiene prevents diarrhoea and can prevent under-nutrition,” said Ms Rosie Wheen, WaterAid Australia Director of International Programs. 

“When poor hygiene is practised, diseases spread fast. Simply by washing hands with soap and water after going to the toilet and before preparing food or eating, people can avoid life threatening water-related diseases. Hand washing alone could cut the risk of diarrhoea almost in half, saving hundreds of children’s lives every day,” said Ms Wheen. 

This year’s Global Handwashing Day follows the historic adoption of the new United Nations’ Global Goals on Sustainable Development for 2030. The Goals, which were agreed on by 191 countries including Australia, contain a goal focused on access to water and sanitation for all.

At the end of October, representatives from more than 100 countries and UN agencies will meet in Bangkok to discuss how to measure progress towards the development targets agreed under the Global Goals. WaterAid is calling on officials to ensure an indicator on handwashing is included as a measure of progress for the goal on water and sanitation for all, to help achieve the full health benefits.

“We are now one step closer in ensuring the tragedy of deaths from diarrhoea caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and hygiene will be a thing of the past with the recent agreement of the Global Goals, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030,” said Ms Wheen.

“There is still work to be done to ensure the world delivers on the potential of these goals. WaterAid is calling for the vital role of handwashing to be included as an indicator for Goal 6, which works towards ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” said Ms Wheen.

“Frequently overlooked, hygiene, and in particular handwashing, make a massive difference to the health and wellbeing of the global population. Furthermore, handwashing is recognised as one of the most cost-effective development interventions by the World Bank,” said Ms Wheen.

WaterAid puts a special focus on promoting good hygiene behaviour. Alongside women’s organisations, health, education and marketing partners, we are delivering effective campaigns to eliminate bad hygiene practices, such as defecating in the open.