Global Handwashing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save 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 2008, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals. (Global Handwashing Partnership)
Handwashing is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many germs that can make people sick are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Handwashing is especially important during key times, such as after using the bathroom or before preparing food.
Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community can:
- Reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by about 23-40%
- Reduce diarrheal illness in people with HIV by about 58%
- Reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by about 16-21%
People and communities around the world will celebrate Global Handwashing Day in many ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed materials to help you celebrate by:
- Learning how to wash hands the right way with these video demonstrations.
- Watching a Facebook Livetalk on October 15 at 11 AM EDT to learn why hygiene education is so important.
- Joining the #HandwashingHeroes social media campaign and sharing a picture of you showing your clean hands.
- Sharing handwashing lessons, events, and materials for thousands of students across the state of Georgia, where CDC is based.
- Helping promote Global Handwashing Day in your community with CDC resources and materials.
The 2018 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Clean hands – a recipe for health.” This year’s theme focuses on the links between handwashing and food – including food hygiene and nutrition. Handwashing at critical times, especially before cooking, eating, or feeding others is one of the most important ways to keep food clean and safe, prevent diseases, and help children grow strong. Connecting handwashing to an existing habit – like a meal – is a great way to form proper handwashing habits.
This year’s theme reminds us to make handwashing a part of every meal.