Saturday, October 15, 2011

15 October - Global Hand Washing Day

Today, the 15th October is celebrated as the Global Hand Washing Day all over the world to create awareness about importance of hygiene with a view to arresting spread of communicable diseases such as diarrhea and other respiratory ailments like pneumonia and flu. It may be added here that almost two million children lose their lives annually and more than 3.5 million children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia. But despite this deadly count, hand washing with soap is seldom practiced in most part of the world. The aim of this day is thus to educate the parents and children about the importance of washing hands, specially after toilets and before / after eating.

The day is celebrated under the auspices of  Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand Washing (PPPHW), which was established in 2001. The organization with the help of its members, implements effective approaches and methodologies for achieving large-scale hand washing behavior change. The Day has been celebrated by many countries as national day since 2008. The day is celebrated with the message of Clean Hands Save Life all over the world.

What can we do to spread the word? Well the challenge is to transform hand washing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.

We in Pakistan also need to join hands in celebrating the day more vigorously since a large number of children in our rural areas are completely unaware of the importance of the hygiene  of their hands and do not wash hands even when eating. Even parents in our rural areas do not impose the hand washing discipline in their children as they themselves are unaware of the repercussions of eating with dirt hands. This awareness also needs to be spread in the flood affected areas as well, where water-borne diseases get multiplied with people, specially children with dirty and unwashed hands.

Reference: Extracts fro material provided in the Planner's Guide