Organisers behind this year’s Global Handwashing Day (Friday, 15 October) have declared that this year’s celebrations will aim to “address the historic neglect of hand hygiene in investments, policies, and programs once and for all”.
Working with the theme “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together,” The Global Handwashing Partnership, the network of peak bodies, aid groups, hygiene product manufacturers behind the initiative, are aiming to re-highlight lessons from hand hygiene associated with the global spread of the COVID-19 last year.
However, the group have also said they are aiming to draw attention to the wider influence hand hygiene can have on disease spread, while highlighting the links between cases of health inequity and a broader lack of hand hygiene education.
“As we enter a new normal, the future state of hand hygiene is in our hands,” the organisers said.
“Globally, 2.3 billion people still lack access to a basic handwashing facility. Although the pandemic led to an overall increase in handwashing rates, practices have not increased equally and people living in fragile settings or LMIC countries have continued to face barriers to handwashing during the pandemic.
“We must ensure that handwashing behaviours are supported and sustained for everyone, everywhere.”
The influence of hand hygiene can also be seen in non-COVID disease mitigation efforts, as the US Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out.
According to the organisation, hand washing can reduce cases of diarrhoea and respiratory illness by between 23-40% and as much as 21% respectively, while people with weak immune systems are around 58% less likely to experience cases of diarrhoeal illness.
Furthermore, the CDC also notes that school absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness can be reduced by between 29 to 57% with the implementation of a sound hand hygiene program.
The Global Handwashing Partnership is encouraging groups and individuals to take part through events, online campaigning and word-of-mouth conversation and discussion, as well as longer term hand hygiene strategies such as “behaviour change” and investment in facilities and resources.
More information of the Global Handwashing Partnership, Global Handwashing Day and its aims, goals and strategies can be found here.