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October 15, Global Handwashing Day: Lathering up to beat disease


Over 80 countries and at least 200 million children, parents, teachers, celebrities and citizens are soaping up for the third annual Global Handwashing Day. Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and affordable health interventions known to man. Visit

On October 15, 2009, 15,115 people washed hands at an event at Nehru Stadium, Chennai, India, and achieved the Guinness World Record for ‘most people washing hands at one location’.
On the same day, 52,970 people washed hands in different places in Bangladesh, attaining the Guinness World Record for ‘most people washing hands at multiple locations’.

October 15, 2010

Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, UN agencies, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies and individuals worldwide and is an initiative of the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap.

In over 80 countries on five continents, Global Handwashing Day events will take place in tens of thousands of schools, community centers, and public spaces. Some programs planned include:

* Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are seeking to set a Guinness World Record for handwashing;
* Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will launch her nation’s hygiene promotion campaign with a hand-washing event.
* Madagascar is supporting youth radio reporters to incite people to wash their hands on the air.
* Yemen is planning a mass media campaign involving television, radio and the press to reach children and their families.

Each year, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children under the age of five. Washing hands with soap and water especially at the critical times -- after using the toilet and before handling food -- helps reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent, yet the behaviour is seldom practiced and difficult to promote. Global Handwashing Day aims to transform handwashing from an abstract idea to an automatic behavior.


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