Today, on Global Handwashing day, communities around the world are promoting a simple but powerful message – ‘Clean hands save lives’.
Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia, which are together responsible for the deaths of over 3.5 million children before their fifth birthday, every year.
On RESULTS’ October conference call, Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) told activists that handwashing with soap was a ‘DIY vaccine’ with the potential to save millions of lives.
Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at critical moments such as after going to the toilet or before handling or eating food. A recent LSHTM study found that even in the UK, 64 per cent of women and only 32 per cent of men wash their hands with soap after a visit to the toilet.
The aim of Global Handwashing day is to transform handwashing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools, workplaces and communities worldwide.
The Department for International Development agree that handwashing with soap is a cheap message to spread but priceless in terms of the millions of lives it might spare. Visit the DFID website for more information about water and sanitation projects that it is supporting.