Every year on 15 October, Global Handwashing Day is observed. The day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. With the COVID-19 pandemic looming large, observing Global Handwashing Day has never been more important. According to the globalhandwashing.org, the COVID-19 pandemic provides a blunt reminder that one of the best ways to stop the virus’s spread is hand hygiene.
Hand Hygiene for All, this year’s theme highlights the fact that to beat the virus and ensure better health outcomes beyond the pandemic, handwashing with soap is a priority.
In an interaction with CNN, Vincent Hill, chief of the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic is an important reminder that handwashing with soap and water is one of the simplest and yet most effective ways to stop the spread of germs.
He added that handwashing with soap and water could prevent 1 in 3 people from getting sick with diarrhea and 1 in 5 people suffering from respiratory illness. According to Hill, handwashing is especially important after using the bathroom, preparing food, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008 when over 120 million children worldwide washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since 2008, leaders have used the day to spread awareness about handwashing, building sinks, tippy taps, and demonstrating the value of clean hands.
To commemorate Global Handwashing Day, the Permanent Missions of Finland and the UK to the UN, in collaboration with UN-Water, the Global Handwashing Partnership, WHO, and UNICEF, are hosting a virtual event “Global Handwashing Day – Accelerating Toward Hand Hygiene for All“ on 15 October at 10.30 pm IST.
According to UNICEF, here’s how a person should wash their hands properly.
First, a person needs to wet hands with running water and then apply soap to cover hands. Once done, they need to scrub all surfaces of the hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them thoroughly in running water and drying the hands with a clean cloth or a single-use towel.
UNICEF further states that one should wash their hands for at least 20-30 seconds. Furthermore, in the context of COVID-19 prevention, one should wash hands several times, including when blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing, visiting a public place, touching surfaces outside the home, including money, while caring for a sick person, and before and after eating.