Simple is often beautiful, which is the case with hygiene. Simply washing hands with soap breaks the transmission route of infectious diseases, which is crucial in saving lives.

Washing hands with soap at critical times can reduce diarrhoeal incidence by 47%. Hand washing could save around 1 million lives, more than any single vaccine or medical intervention.

Hand washing with soap (or an alternative agent such as ash) at critical times – such as after contact with human excreta and before preparing and eating food – is a simple and cost-effective measure to improve health. It significantly reduces the two leading causes of childhood mortality worldwide – diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infection.

Lack of soap or knowledge about the health benefits associated with its use is rarely the cause of not washing hands; it is rather simply not a habit. Promoting hand washing with soap therefore often requires changing behaviour.

When attempting to change behaviours, it is important to focus on an easily understood message. Issues to target include cleanliness, protection of the child, and remaining healthy. The presence of a hand washing facility can act as a ‘reminder’ for people to wash their hands and provides a (no cost) space to do so.

WSSCC works with the Public-Private Partnership for Hand Washing with Soap (PPPHW ), which promotes the activity in order to reduce diarrhoea and diarrhoeal diseases. The approach combines the marketing expertise and consumer focus of the soap industry with the institutional strength and resources of development organizations and governments.

The Global Handwashing Day is an initiative by a subgroup of the PPPHW and instituted worldwide on 15 October every year through various events and campaigns.

Last updated: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 15:28