More than 200 million school children, parents, teachers, celebrities and government officials around the world will on Friday wash their hands with soap as part of the third annual Global hand washing day celebrations.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is: “More Than Just a Day.” A statement issued in Accra on Friday by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, Ghana, said the partners were promoting behavioural change not only by organising activities in more than 80 countries to raise awareness of the benefits of hand washing with soap but to ensure that schools and communities had the support they needed to make the practice routine.
It noted that Global public-private partnership for hand washing with soap was rolling out new tools to help developing countries transform hand washing from a distracted daily act to a positive habit. It observed that each year, more than 3.5 million children under-five years died as a result of diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections. The statement said washing hands with soap and water was simple, affordable and effective to reduce diarrhoeal and other respiratory infections.
“Washing hands with soap and water especially at the critical time after using the toilet and before handling food helps reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent, yet this simple behaviour is not practiced regularly”, it added. The Global public-private partnership for hand washing with soap is a coalition of international stakeholders focusing on the importance of hand washing and child health.
Since its inception in 2001, the partnership aims to give families, schools and the communities in developing countries power to prevent diarrhoea and respiratory infections by supporting the universal promotion and practice of proper hand washing with soap at critical times.