Global Handwashing Day: Why washing your hands regularly is a must

On the occasion of Global Handwashing Day we look at the many positive reasons behind this hygienic practice...

Washing hands on a daily basis cuts the number of child deaths from diseases like diarrhea, which is the second leading cause of child deaths by almost half and from pneumonia, the leading cause by one-quarter.

There are five critical times in washing hands with soap and/or using of a hand antiseptic related to fecal-oral transmission:
>>after using a bathroom (private or public)
>>after changing a baby's diaper
>>before feeding a child
>>before eating and before preparing food
>>handling raw meat, fish, or poultry, or any other situation leading to potential contamination

Global hand washing day
Representational picture

To reduce the spread of germs, it is also better to wash the hands and/or use a hand antiseptic before and after tending to a sick person.

For control of staphylococcal infections in hospitals, it has been found that the greatest benefit from hand-cleansing came from the first 20% of washing, and that very little additional benefit was gained when hand cleansing frequency was increased beyond 35%.

Washing with plain soap results in more than triple the rate of bacterial infectious disease transmitted to food as compared to washing with antibacterial soap.

Comparing hand-rubbing with alcohol-based solution with handwashing with antibacterial soap for a median time of 30 seconds each showed that the alcohol hand-rubbing reduced bacterial contamination 26% more than the antibacterial soap.

But soap and water is more effective than alcohol-based hand rubs for reducing H1N1 influenza A virus and Clostridium difficile spores from hands.

What is Global Handwashing Day?
Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is a campaign to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. It takes place on October 15 of each year. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.

GHD was created at the annual World Water Week 2008, which was held in Stockholm from August 17 to 23 and initiated by the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). The first Global Handwashing Day took place on October 15, 2008, the date appointed by the UN General Assembly in accordance with year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation.

The theme for Global Handwashing Day’s inaugural year was Focus on School Children. The members pledged to get the maximum number of school children handwashing with soap in more than 70 countries.

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