Today is Global Handwashing Day. The Day, designated by the United Nations as part of its on-going International Year of Sanitation, is aimed at improving hygiene practices among the people.
The Day would be celebrated as the centrepiece of week-long activities, starting from October 15, that are expected to mobilise millions of people in more than 20 countries around the world for the cause.
The guiding vision of Global Handwashing Day is a local and global culture of handwashing with soap. Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at critical moments (for example, after using the ., while cleaning a child, and before handling food).
According to UNICEF, Children are highly susceptible to the diseases caused by a lack of effective sanitation and poor hygiene. More than 5,000 children under the age of five die every day as a result of diarrheal diseases, caused in part by unsafe water, lack of access to basic sanitation facilities and poor hygiene.
By washing hands with soap, families and communities can help reduce child morbidity rates from diarrheal diseases by almost 50 per cent, it added.
The inaugural Global Handwashing Day focuses on children and schools. After learning about improved hygiene behaviour in schools, children can act as agents of change by taking these messages home to their families and communities.
Handwashing with soap, particularly after using the . and before eating, could significantly impact health, survival, child mortality, and help reduce poverty. Stepping up investment for water, sanitation and hygiene will speed the achievement of all eight Millennium Development Goals, UNICEF said in a press statement.