Numerous studies have shown that the simple step of properly handwashing markedly reduces the risk of disease and infection. Unfortunately, many in developing nations around the globe do not know of this life-saving fact. For this reason, the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) established October 15 as Global Handwashing Day. The theme for 2018 is “Clean hands – a recipe for health.” It particularly applies to this year’s emphasis on making handwashing a part of preparing to make or partake of every meal.
When the first Global Handwashing Day was introduced in 2008, the campaign focused on reducing child mortality rates by introducing behavioral changes, including handwashing. It was estimated that the simple act of washing one’s hands adequately with soap could reduce childhood mortality from respiratory disease by 25 percent and from diarrheal diseases by 50 percent. In fact, “Research shows that children living in households exposed to handwashing promotion and soap had half the diarrheal rates of children living in control neighborhoods.”