- Global Handwashing Day has become even more important amid COVID-19
- Handwashing is likely to reduce the chances of COVID-19 by 36%: UNICEF
- 1 in 5 people globally wash hands with soap after defecating: WaterAid
New Delhi: World Health Organization (WHO) states that hands are the main pathways of germ transmission and thus handwashing is the single most important measure to avoid the spread of infections and keep people healthy. According to UNICEF, the simple act of handwashing after going to the toilet or before eating can reduce the risk of children getting diarrhoea by more than 40%. It further says that in COVID-19 times, handwashing is likely to reduce the chances of COVID-19 infection by 36 per cent.
As the world observes Global Handwashing Day on October 15, here are a few things to know about the day and why it holds so much importance.
Theme Of Global Handwashing Day 2021
Every year, the Global Handwashing Day is celebrated with a theme and this year’s theme is “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together.” The theme highlights the learnings from the past year which have emphasised the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. The theme stresses on the point that as the world enters a new normal, beyond COVID-19, the future is at hand. This year’s theme calls for coordinated action towards universal hand hygiene.
A Look At Global Handwashing Day History & Why It Is Marked
Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership, a coalition of international stakeholders who work explicitly to promote handwashing with soap. The day is celebrated every year on October 15 with an aim to educate people that handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and it saves lives.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since then, Global Handwashing Day has continued to grow. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by governments, schools, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, individuals, and more.
Why is Handwashing important?
1. According to Wateraid an international non-governmental organisation, focused on water, sanitation and hygiene, 443 million school days are lost every year globally because of water-related illnesses and handwashing.
2. The National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16), which is the last full survey done in India also highlights the grim situation of handwashing in the country. According to the survey, while almost all households in India (as high as 97% have washbasins), only richer and more educated households in urban areas use soap to wash hands. The survey also pointed out that only 2 out of 10 poor households use soap compared to 9 out of 10 rich households.
3. WHO says that in 2019 an estimated 5.2 million children under 5 years died mostly from preventable and treatable causes. WHO also said that half of all under-five deaths in 2019 occurred in just five countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. Nigeria and India alone accounted for almost a third of all deaths. The leading causes of death in children under-5 years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, congenital anomalies, diarrhoea and malaria, all of which can be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions including handwashing, adequate nutrition, safe water and food.
4. As per the National Health Mission data, around one lakh children die due to diarrhoea in India, every year. UNICEF adds that handwashing can reduce diarrhoea rates by more than 40 per cent.
How To Wash Your Hands Correctly: A Guide By WHO
WHO says that if hands are visibly dirty, washing hands with soap and water is recommended. Here is a WHO-approved, 11 step guide:
• Step 1: Wet hands with water
• Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces
• Step 3: Rub hands palm to palm
• Step 4: Right palm over the left hand, interlaced fingers and vice a versa
• Step 5: Palms to palms, fingers interlaced
• Step 6: Back of fingers
• Step 7: Rotational rubbing of left and right thumbs
• Step 8: Rotational rubbing on each palm
• Step 9: Rinse with water
• Step 10: Dry thoroughly with a clean towel
• Step 11: Use the towel to turn off the tap
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.