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Making clean hands a priority for more than just a day, Global Handwashing Day partners lather up with millions around the world


Handwashing with soap could save lives of millions

NEW YORK/GENEVA - For the third annual Global Handwashing Day, more than 200 million schoolchildren, parents, teachers, celebrities and government officials around the world will lather up, but at the end of the day, they aim to have more than just clean hands.

This year the theme of Global Handwashing Day – more than just a day – aims to make the simple, life-saving practice of washing hands a regular habit long after the sun sets on October 15.

Global Handwashing Day partners are promoting this behavioural change not only by organizing activities in more than 80 countries to raise awareness of the benefits of handwashing, but by ensuring that schools and communities have the support they need to make the practice routine. Toward this end the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap is rolling out new tools to help developing countries transform handwashing from a distracted daily act to a positive habit.

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 this simple behaviour is not practiced regularly.

Global Handwashing Day shines a spotlight on the importance of handwashing with soap and water as one of the most effective and affordable health interventions. Today that message is being brought to playgrounds, classrooms, community centers, public spaces and the air waves. Some of the activities planned for the event include:

* A handwashing parade in Sri Lanka with students and decision-makers;
* Handwashing demonstrations in Vietnam, Laos and Syria;
* Student contests in Ethiopia, along with the launch of a media campaign to target schools, health institutions, and youth and women’s associations;
* Radio and television spots in Guinea informing the public about proper handwashing;
* Installing taps on water tanks in Fiji as part of a nation-wide campaign to facilitate handwashing;
* The President of the High Council of Local Government in Mali will launch the national GHD activities in presence of the international musician and UNICEF Ambassador, Habib Koïté;
* Venezuela will launch a national ‘100 school survey’ campaign to shine the spotlight on the state of school hygiene practice and facilities.

The 100 school survey is one of the new tools being launched as part of the third annual Global Handwashing Day. The questionnaire can be used to take a snapshot of hygiene conditions in schools, and thus be used to better target where resources are needed. Other tools being rolled out this year include a monitoring toolkit and the More than Just a Day brochure, which outlines what can be done to promote handwashing with soap all year round. These and other tools are available on the Global Handwashing Day website

The global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap is a coalition of international stakeholders focusing on the importance of handwashing and child health. Established in 2001, the partnership aims to give families, schools, and communities in developing countries the power to prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections by supporting the universal promotion and practice of proper handwashing with soap at critical times.

Included among the coalition’s 14 international stakeholders are: the Academy for Educational Development; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Colgate-Palmolive; International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research; Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Procter & Gamble; The Water and Sanitation Program; The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council; The World Bank; UNICEF; Unilever; USAID and WaterAid.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:


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