Every October 15th, millions of people celebrate Global Handwashing Day through
worldwide celebrations, events, and advocacy campaigns. Global Handwashing Day
was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership, an international coalition
of organizations working to promote handwashing with soap. Handwashing with soap
is a simple and effective way to prevent diseases and ensure overall health. In
2018, more than 570 million people promoted the simple, life-saving act of
handwashing with soap on Global Handwashing Day.
This year's Global Handwashing Day theme, "Clean Hands for All, follows the year
-long push to leave no one behind in the Sustainable Development agenda.
Handwashing with soap is a simple, yet often neglected act. Inequalities in
access to proper handwashing facilities and behavior change programs can put
individuals at higher risk for diseases that impact their health, education,
and economic outcomes. To achieve handwashing equity, this year's Global
Handwashing Day emphasizes the need to look to those often left behind and
actively work to ensure inclusivity in handwashing efforts moving forward.
Globally, only 60% of the world's population has access to a basic handwashing
facility. Among vulnerable groups, handwashing is a greater challenge. In conflict-
affected settings, children under 5 years of age are 20 times more likely to
die of diarrhea than violence. Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of
diarrhea in these settings by nearly half. Handwashing with soap is a critical
way to ensure health for all.
Global Handwashing Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of
handwashing. The Day encourages action to promote and sustain handwashing habits.
Organizations and individuals can celebrate Global Handwashing Day by planning
an event, participating in a digital campaign, or spreading the word about the
importance of handwashing. Beyond Global Handwashing Day, communities should
ensure handwashing stations with soap are accessible and appropriate, provide
inclusive behavior change programming, and advocate for handwashing in policies
to ensure clean hands for all.
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