Happy Global Handwashing Day!
It may seem insignificant, but the simple act of washing your hands after using the toilet can save your life. Sadly, 1.7 million children die every year from diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation in countries where access to adequate sanitation is woefully lacking.
Since the first Global Handwashing Day in 2008 however, over 120 million children around the world have washed their hands with soap in over 70 countries – and community and national leaders have used the day to spread the word about hand washing, hygiene and the value of clean hands.
Happiness, Health & Happy Birthday
How should we wash our hands?
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap (or ash)
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together ensuring the backs, between your fingers and under your nails are targeted
- Rub them for at least 20 seconds (as long as humming “Happy Birthday” through twice)
- Rinse your hands under clean, running water
- Dry your hands using a clean towel, paper towel or air dry them
Top Five Facts Hand Washing Facts:
1. Hand washing with soap is a ‘do-it-yourself vaccine’ that prevents infections and saves lives.
Did you know, human feces (poo) is the main source of the germs that cause diarrhoea, including shigellosis, typhoid, and cholera? In fact, a single gram (the same weight as three peanuts) can contain over 1,000,000 viruses. This fact reflects the shocking statistic that diarrhoeal diseases kill more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, making it the second leading cause of death among children under five.
Hand washing with soap after using the toilet however,can prevent the transmission of the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that cause diarrhoeal diseases. Because hand washing can prevent the transmission of a variety of pathogens, it may be more effective than any single vaccine.
2. Hand washing is a very cost-effective disease prevention solution.
Cost is not typically a barrier to hand washing practice; almost all households in the world already have soap—though it is commonly used for laundry, dish washing, or bathing. Investments in the promotion of hand washing with soap can also maximize the health benefits of investments in water supply and sanitation infrastructure and reduce health risks when families do not have access to basic sanitation and water supply services.
3. Everyone can prevent disease and improve health with hand washing.
One person’s clean hands prevent disease transmission to others. A whole family’s clean hands can significantly improve the family’s health and reduce incidence of common illnesses. An entire classroom, office, or community with clean hands effectively stops disease in its tracks. Everyone, from young to old, can wash their hands and develop the habit of washing at critical moments, such as after going to the toilet and before handling food or eating.
Tippy Taps (above) are popular and can be made using cans or plastic bottles that release a small amount of water—just enough for a clean hand wash—each time they are tipped.
It is estimated that washing hands
with soap and water would reduce
diarrhoeal disease associated
deaths by 50%.
Germ-carrying grease and dirt get stuck to your hands, even when you can’t see them. Soap breaks down grease and dirt so it can be dislodged by the rubbing and friction when you wash your hands, and then rinsed away—along with all the germs.
Hands should be washed with soap after using the toilet, after cleaning a child’s bottom (or any other contact with human excreta, including that of babies and children), and before any contact with food, such as before eating or before preparing food. Children and adults should also wash their hands after playing or working outside, touching animals and their dwellings.