Global Handwashing Day 2022 – spotlight on one of the most basic whilst most important hygiene measures

On October 15th the global community celebrates the Global Handwashing Day (GHD) to increase awareness about the importance of hand hygiene and triggering lasting change from the policy-level to community-driven action.

Research has found that infections are transmitted in 80% by hands. Safe hand hygiene can help to reduce this spread of diseases: handwashing with soap can reduce diarrheal diseases by 30% and acute respiratory infections by up to 20%. Moreover, plays handwashing an important role in preventing the transmission of outbreak related pathogens such as Cholera, Ebola, and COVID-19. This makes handwashing key to reducing the burden of many diseases which pose chronic challenges to health and development.  Nevertheless, 2.3 billion people lack basic services, including 670 million people with no handwashing facilities at all. The ability to regularly practice handwashing is also thought to contribute to improved wellbeing, dignity, educational fulfilment, and productivity. This year’s theme of the Global Handwashing Day is “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene” and Sanitation for Millions set up a diverse programme to commemorate the GHD 2022 in all partner countries.

Not only the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe hand hygiene. In the aftermath of the flood disaster in Pakistan, handwashing has become an even more pressing issue as the flood favours the outbreak of diseases like cholera. Sanitation for Millions co-organised and engaged in a national dialogue on “Hand Hygiene for all in Pakistan”. The event offered a platform for stakeholders such as parliamentarians and representatives from the private and the development sector, the youth and the civil society to raise awareness on safe hand hygiene and to create ownership among all participants.

From October 2022 on, Sanitation for Millions will extend its activities to the Anaka cluster in northern Uganda. The GHD 2022 provides a perfect opportunity to come together for an exchange with key partners and stakeholders, like district health and education officers, religious leaders, and health care workers. Sanitation for Millions presented which measures are planned and moreover, innovative WASH technologies such as WASHaLOT’s and Millions of Clean Hand (MoCH) stations were showcased. In Jordan, Sanitation for Millions, in cooperation with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, organised awareness raising sessions on WASH with a special focus on safe hand hygiene in four schools.

And last but not least: we’re excited to spread the word about our new partner country! As of October 2022, Sanitation for Millions starts implementing in Colombia – and what could be a better kick-off than participating in Global Handwashing Day? The activities start off with awareness raising messages on hand hygiene as well as facts and figures regarding the status of hand hygiene in Colombia.

Happy Global Handwashing Day to everyone!

Author: Lukas Trautner/ Laura Kieweg