Hand hygiene for all on Global Handwashing Day
14 October 2020
EVERY YEAR on 15 October, millions of people celebrate Global Handwashing Day through worldwide celebrations, events, and advocacy campaigns.
The day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008 to help communities, advocates, and leaders spread the word about handwashing with soap. Global Handwashing Day not only seeks to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap, but provides a platform for sustained action at a global, regional, and national level. In 2019, nearly 600 million people celebrated the simple, life-saving act of handwashing with soap.
The Global Handwashing Partnership is a coalition of international stakeholders who work explicitly to promote handwashing with soap and recognize hand hygiene as a pillar of international development and public health. Steering Committee Members and Strategic Partners include: Colgate-Palmolive, Essity, FHI 360, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Procter & Gamble, UNICEF, Unilever, USAID, the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council, and the World Bank.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme, “Hand Hygiene for All,” aligns with the recently launched WHO and UNICEF-led Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative, which calls for all of society to scale up hand hygiene through increased political leadership, a stronger enabling environment, and robust supply and demand for hand hygiene facilities and supplies. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an important reminder that hand hygiene is a fundamental component to health and development. To beat the virus today and ensure good health overall, this year’s Global Handwashing Day emphasizes the need to take immediate action on hand hygiene across all settings to response and control the COVID-19 pandemic. It also serves as a reminder of the need to build on the current momentum to ensure hand hygiene is becomes a mainstay in public health interventions.
Proper hand hygiene is often neglected, in part due to the lack of access to proper hand hygiene facilities in key places. Globally, 3billion of the world’s population lack access to a basic handwashing facility. Approximately 75% of those who lack access to soap and water live in the world’s poorest countries and are among the most vulnerable groups, including children and families living in informal settlements, migrant and refugee camps, and in areas of active conflict. While access to soap and water is an important first step, this must also be complemented by handwashing behavior change programming to ensure handwashing becomes a long-term habit and norm.
Global Handwashing 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 and budgets to ensure hand hygiene for all.
For more information visit www.globalhandwashing.org/global-handwashing-day/