Global Handwashing Day
Sangita Thangjam and Beronica Khaidem
October 15 is Global Hand washing Day, 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 infections. Global Hand Washing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocating hand washing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The 2020 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Hand Hygiene for All.” This year’s theme follows the recent global initiative calling on all of society to scale up hand hygiene, especially through hand washing with soap. This year’s theme reminds us that we must work toward universal access and practice of hand washing with soap for now and for a healthy future.
No matter where you are or what you do, you can celebrate Global Handwashing Day
Each year on October 15, Global Hand washing Day highlights the importance of hand washing with soap and water at home, in the community, and around the world.
The observance was established by the Global Hand washing Partnership in 2008. This year’s theme, “Hand Hygiene for All,” seeks to raise awareness of making soap and water available globally, especially in public places, schools, and health care facilities. It also calls for institutions and individuals to improve hand hygiene efforts in the COVID-19 response that can outlast the pandemic and ensure continued access to clean water and soap.
Handwashing & COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark reminder that hand-washing is one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of any virus and ensure better health outcomes overall. This year’s Global Hand Washing Day theme is Hand Hygiene for All, calling for all of society to achieve universal hand hygiene now and for the future. The theme reminds us of the need to take immediate action on hand hygiene across all public and private settings to respond and control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many germs that can make people sick are spread when we don’t wash our hands with soap and clean, running water. That is why hand washing is so important, especially at key times such as after using the bathroom, when preparing food, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
Handwashing in Communities
Hand washing with soap and water is not only simple and inexpensive, but also can dramatically reduce the number of young children who get sick. Teaching people about hand washing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Hand washing education in the community can:
Reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by about 23–40%
Reduce absenteeism due to gastro-intestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29–57%
Reduce diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by about 58%
Reduce respiratory illnesses, like cold, in the general population by about 16–21%
Hand hygiene in healthcare settings
Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat. On average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. On any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.
Hand hygiene must become everybody’s business. It also reminds us of the need to build on the current momentum to make hand hygiene a mainstay in public health interventions beyond the pandemic and create a culture of hand hygiene.
Sangita Thangjam is Consultant Microbiologist/Chairperson Infection Control Committee and Beronica Khaidem is Infection Control Nurse