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Global Handwashing Day

Patrick Boshell
October 15, 2012

Global Handwashing Day was originally created for children and schools, but can be celebrated by anyone promoting handwashing with soap.  Each year on October 15, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world.  Handwashing with soap is the most effective & inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal & acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries.  Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths.

 

Handwashing Day CelebrationsSo Why Handwashing? According to The Global Public-Private Parnership for Handwashing (PPPHW), " Handwashing with soap is the “vaccine” that prevents infections."

 

"Here is why: Human feces are the main source of diarrheal pathogens. They are the source of shigellosis, typhoid, cholera, all other common endemic gastro-enteric infections and some respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia. A single gram of human feces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria.

 

These pathogens are passed from an infected host to a new one via various routes but all of these illnesses emanate from feces. Removing excreta and cleaning hands with soap after contact with fecal material –from using the toilet or cleaning a child – prevents the transmission of the bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause diarrheal diseases.

 

Research shows that children living in households exposed to handwashing promotion and soap had half the diarrheal rates of children living in control neighborhoods. Because handwashing can prevent the transmission of a variety of pathogens, it may be more effective than any single vaccine. Promoted on a wide enough scale, handwashing with soap can be thought of as a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Ingraining the habit of handwashing could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention."

 

Learn more about Global Handwashing Day and to access educational materials at http://globalhandwashing.org/

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