A global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The 2016 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Make Handwashing a Habit!” For handwashing to be effective it must be practiced consistently at key times, such as after using the toilet or before contact with food. While habits must be developed over time, this theme emphasizes the importance of handwashing as a ritual behavior for long-term sustainability. Habit formation is currently a hot topic in behavior change and the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector. This theme taps into that interest and is also a gateway to discussing what the sector knows about how habits are formed.
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
Handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, and affordable do-it-yourself protection that prevents infections and saves lives.
Handwashing with Soap is Easy
Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and their communities through handwashing with soap. It requires few resources—just soap and a small amount of water—yet the benefits are huge.
Handwashing with Soap is Effective
When handwashing with soap is practiced regularly at key times, such as after using the toilet or before contact with food, it can dramatically reduce the risk of diarrhea and pneumonia, which can cause serious illness and death. Handwashing with soap also helps prevent the spread of other infections such as influenza and Ebola.
Handwashing with Soap is Affordable
Cost is not the principal barrier to handwashing with soap. Almost everyone in the world can afford multipurpose bar soap, or detergent to make soapy water, though recent surveys have found a soap access equity gap, meaning the world’s poorest households are less likely to have access to soap. Furthermore households which do have access to soap commonly use it for laundry, dish washing or bathing, rather than for handwashing. Investments in hand washing promotion are very cost effective, and can also maximize the health benefits of other interventions from access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure to nutrition promotion.
Hand washing is easy to do and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings—from our home and workplace to child care facilities and hospitals. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community.
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