Each year on 15 October, people worldwide celebrate Global Handwashing Day. It sounds almost too simple to be true, but properly washing your hands with soap and water is the most affordable and effective way of preventing a range of health problems including diarrhea and respiratory infections – problems which currently are the cause of death of millions of children, particularly in the developing countries of the world.
This is one of those astonishingly simple and obvious things to promote – if we can foster a generation of youngsters for whom handwashing is an integral part of their lives, it could “save more lives than any single existing vaccine of medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.”
2012 is the fifth anniversary of Global Handwashing Day. In celebrating this fact, the theme for this year is “Help More Children Reach Their 5th Birthday”.
The reason why Global Handwashing Day is focussed on children is simply the fact that they represent the segment of society that is most enthusiastic and most susceptible to new ideas. If the current generation of children can be convinced of the value of washing your hands before eating and after going to the toilet, the habit can be entrenched in future generations, which could result in literally millions of lives being saved.
So if you have kids, do your bit and teach them the value of regularly washing their hands. Even if you don’t have kids, you can help by sharing the idea with friends, promoting it at local schools, etc. It may not feel like it, but it could really be the simplest and most significant intervention you can contribute to in your lifetime.