Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is celebrated annually on October 15. Since its inception in 2008, Global Handwashing Day has remained a joint initiative between the WHO (World Health Organization) and the UN (United Nations), with its chief objective being spreading awareness about the mandatory need for thorough cleansing and washing of hands, to keep infections at bay.

global handwashing day 2019

The WHO and UN define a handwashing facility as one that is equipped with a sink or similar basin, along with a water source such as a tap and a dispenser or case with soap.

Current statistics based on the WHO - UN joint committee's research analysis indicate that only about 60 percent of the global population has access to such fundamental hand washing amenities. Furthermore, in developing countries, the figures are dismally low with an average of only 28 percent of people being able to obtain a means to reach a facility to clean their hands.

Also Read: Clean Hands, The First Step To Good Health

The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2022 is ‘Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene.’ This theme mainly focuses on prioritizing hand hygiene by making it a team effort, employing the lessons learned from the recent experiences of the highly spreading Covid-19. As humanity gradually progresses beyond COVID-19 to a new normal, people all over the globe must unite for universal hand hygiene.

Although it may sound surprising, almost 40 per cent of the world‘s population has no access to basic facilities for hand washing. Hand washing has been one of the most significant tools for the past two years to protect oneself and fight against the pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19), further strengthening the message that hygiene of our hands is equally essential in preventing and maintaining optimum health alongside medications and other hygiene protocols.

When To Wash Your Hands?

From touching an infected person, eating with dirty hands, intake contaminated water or food, touching untidy surfaces to inhaling droplets in the air blown out during a cough or cold, microbes can very easily transmit from one person to another. Hence, it is obvious that handwashing should be a routine habit and practised by everyone regularly be it at home or outside.  There is no daily quota for washing hands that you have to achieve to stay healthy and disease-free. It all relies on your environment, where you are staying or working throughout the day.

In general, you should wash your hands in the following situations:

  • Before cooking food, eating and feeding the kids
  • After an extended usage of objects known to harbour bacteria e.g., mobile phones, steering wheels on public use cars, visibly dirty door knobs, public transportation, laptop, etc
  • Every time after using the toilet
  • After dusting, mopping and cleaning the house
  • After caressing your pets or any other stray animals
  • Before or after visiting a sick relative or a friend
  • After coming home from work 
  • After coming home from a hospital
  • After you sneeze or cough in your hands
  • Any time your hand is simply dirty

When kids happen to encounter any of these situations, it is very for the germs to get inside their bodies through their eyes, nose or mouth. This facilitates the infection to spread easily to the whole family in a matter of time.

While, it is easier for parents who have toddlers at home or closely monitor their children to help keep their hands clean with constant reminders, adults, on the other hand, are usually caught up with their daily chores and have a higher incidence to overlook hand washing, simply thinking they have stronger immunity than kids.

Well, one’s innate immunity may evade certain infections, but with the recent experience of coronavirus in hand, it is paramount to make handwashing a basic protocol of the general way of life. Acknowledging the benefits of handwashing on your life and family is a good motivating factor to keep up with good hygienic habits and lead a disease-free life.

In order to achieve equity in hand washing, it is not just the roles of the healthcare industry and policymakers that are integral and crucial, but also the general public, who must be aware of the importance and necessity to clean their hands with soap. It is our responsibility to inculcate proper hygiene practices not just amongst adults, but also in children so that future generations grow up to be healthy and fit.

Foray through this article to find out about the 5 advantages of washing hands thoroughly with soap and water.

5 Reasons To Clean Hands Thoroughly With Soap

Prevents Diarrhea:

One major ailment affecting nearly 2 million children worldwide annually, due to rampant unhygienic conditions in food processing areas, is diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome. It is, therefore, a must for parents and teachers to teach kids to wash their hands with soap or a sterilizing liquid before meals after they eat and particularly after playing outdoors for a long time.

Avoids Nosocomial Infections:

It comes as no surprise that infections can be contracted just as easily in hospitals as in any other place. Hence, healthcare professionals, nurses, doctors, and all hospital workers must clean their hands thoroughly before performing any activities and especially when interacting with visitors, besides advising patients also to do the same.

Averts Respiratory Diseases:

Pneumonia is a life-threatening ARI (acute respiratory infection) that is a leading cause of mortality in children globally. Washing hands properly with water and a disinfectant soap can help keep the disease-causing germs away from afflicting kids. It is also vital to ensure that the little ones have easy access to a handwashing facility.

Also Read: Cleaner Hands Mean Healthy You. The Importance Of Hand Hygiene

Stops Bacterial Infections:

The infectious agents namely bacteria, viruses, and fungi have also evolved over the years and become resistant to antibiotics and other medications. Naturally, treating these disorders is more complex than before. Hence, it is essential to clean hands properly, by both children and adults alike, to prevent contracting any serious illnesses.

Keeps You Disease Free:

Regardless of whether an individual is wealthy or living in poverty, or from a city or village, personal hygiene is often ignored and taken casually. Awareness drives must be conducted by health officials, to reiterate the significance of washing hands with soap at least twice a day, to ward off severe diseases and improve the overall quality of life.