Global Handwashing Day: What it is and why it’s important
Since 2008, Global Handwashing Day has been celebrated annually on October 15 to promote handwashing with soap and water as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives. When handwashing with soap is practised at key moments, such as after using the toilet or before eating, 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 and viruses including influenza and COVID-19.
Considering that 1.37 billion people (18% of the world’s population) lack handwashing facilities at home1, we can safely say this issue matters greatly!
Handwashing has been and will continue to be one of the most effective ways to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and is by far one of the most important behaviours to adopt for a healthy life.
Access to WASH services and information alone is not enough to shift human behaviour; individuals must be convinced that they have a vital role to play, and they require frequent reminders to stay motivated and keep up the behaviours that protect themselves and others from disease.
For example, even when a health care facility has access to supplies and infrastructure and staff members are aware of proper hand hygiene behaviours, some 61% of health workers still do not practise them.2 In addition to ensuring access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, we need to promote systemic and long-term behaviour change, in order to improve the current statistics where 1 in 6 patients worldwide acquire an infection inside a health care facility.3
Solutions for better water access and sanitation
At the One Drop Foundation, we are always ready to go above and beyond to achieve true long-term sustainability. We believe in the combined power of providing access to safe WASH services, promoting healthy behaviours, and encouraging capital to support income-generating activities and market-based solutions.
Access; Behaviour change; Capital. These elements make up our A•B•C for SustainabilityTM model. The combined power of these three components makes our projects sustainable by creating an enabling environment for positive change and helping communities reach their full potential.
To learn more about our projects, read our 2019 Impact Report.
To sum up, access to water, sanitation, and hygiene is vital. Handwashing with soap and water has proven to be a critical component of access to health, education, and gender equity, and it is one of the most effective measures of COVID-19 prevention.
1.World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) 2017 2. Health care without avoidable infections. The critical role of infection prevention and control 3. Burden of endemic health-care-associated infection in developing countries: systematic review and meta-analysis