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Global Handwashing Day is the centerpiece of a week of activities that mobilize millions of people worldwide to wash their hands with soap. First launched by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing on 15 October 2008, Global Handwashing Day is now an annual event designed to raise awareness and foster the practice of handwashing with soap.
WSSCC celebrated Global Handwashing Day in various countries, including Bangladesh, Tanzania, Nigeria, Madagascar and Uganda. Read some of the highlights below to find out how our partners around the world raised a hand for hygiene on 15 October.
In Bangladesh, WSSCC's local partner organizations including UNICEF, WaterAid, Practical Action and UST Bangladesh organized a joint learning and sharing session in Dhaka which focused on this year’s global theme, ‘Raise a Hand for Hygiene’. The meeting was followed by a public sanitation rally which attracted more than 5,000 participants – among them 600 enthusiastic pupils who demonstrated the importance of hygiene by using hands-free handwashing facilities and participating in awareness-raising activities like art competitions and singing contests.
Members of the Global Sanitation Fund programme in Malawi and local partner organizations jointly organized the national Handwashing Day celebrations, which were held at the Malambo Full Primary School in the city of Mponela, located in the Central Region of Malawi.
The primary school was chosen to host the national event after winning a competition on innovative handwashing facilities that took place between schools in the district. There were three criteria for the completion: most innovative handwashing facility, easiness of using the facility and easiness of replication of the facility by others. Awareness-raising activities included comedy, poems, drama, news bulletins and traditional community dances. All these activities were tailored to send handwashing messages to the audience.
The GSF and other partner organizations were joined by Ms. Chimwemwe Banda, Director of Health Services, and Dr. Storn Kabuluzi, Director of Preventive Health Services in the Ministry of Health. In her speech, Ms. Banda urged school children, teachers, and the entire community to always wash their hands at critical times. She also advised on the use of soap which is crucial for eliminating germs, especially for women who are culturally tasked with providing water for handwashing to family members.
Various regions in Madagascar celebrated Global Handwashing Day under the theme ‘Practicing Handwashing with Soap Assures my Hygiene’. The national sanitation and hygiene campaign was sponsored by Madagascar’s Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo and by the Minister of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Dr. Johanita Ndahimananjara.
The campaign activities included music concerts with themes focused on spreading messages about the importance of handwashing with soap, outreach to the local press, learning and sharing events, competitions for creating innovative handwashing facilitates, school plays with marionettes, a big market, singing contests on local radio stations and art performances.
Global Handwashing Day celebrations in the Ugandan city of Luweero not only focused on the importance of handwashing, but also put the spotlight on menstrual hygiene management as a crucial element for safe hygiene practices.
WSSCC's Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) tent served as an intimate space for women and girls to learn about the menstrual cycle and ways to safely manage their menstruation. The activity was hosted by the SNV Uganda office, who is currently the host of the National Handwashing Campaign and who also serves as the Chair of the MHM movement in Uganda. According to Robert Otim, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) advisor at SNV, 80 percent of the national health burden has to do with sanitation-related diseases and Uganda loses about 32,500 infants annually from infections such as diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera and typhoid. Mr. Otim also pointed out that the percentage of people who wash their hands using water and soap after visiting the toilet has increased to 33 percent from 14 percent since the establishment of the National Handwashing Campaign in 2007.