Global Handwashing Day 2023 – Reaching for Clean Hands to Reduce Diseases Worldwide

#CleanHandsarewithinReach – This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme encourages the mission to reach more people with better hand hygiene. Every year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing. As every year, Sanitation for Millions organizes numerous activities around the world to celebrate this day.

Handwashing is the simplest and most cost-effective way to prevent disease, making it critical to reducing infections and pandemics. According to the WHO, handwashing with soap can significantly reduce diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections. Handwashing with soap also plays an important role in reducing the transmission of outbreak-related pathogens such as cholera and Ebola. Safe hand hygiene also protects against healthcare-associated infections, and proper hand hygiene has further been linked to benefits beyond disease reduction, such as reduced school absenteeism and improvements in well-being, dignity, and productivity.

The Global Handwashing Day, which is celebrated every year on 15 October, aims to raise awareness of the importance of safe hand hygiene practices. This year’s theme is #CleanHandsarewithinreach. So far, Sanitation for Millions has directly reached more than 1.2 million people with access to safe hand hygiene – and the programme is working hard to reach even more. The Global Handwashing Day is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness among the programme’s partners, in public institutions and within local communities.

What are Sanitation for Millions activities for this years’ Global Handwashing Day?

In Pakistan, although most people have access to places to wash their hands, only 69 percent of households use soap and water for hand washing. One in 10 households do not have water, soap, or any other cleaning agents in place for practicing safe hand hygiene. To raise awareness on the importance of proper handwashing, Sanitation for Millions and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) organized a public speaking competition, a quiz competition, and a skit in schools.  Sanitation for Millions joined UNICEF in holding hands-on sessions to demonstrate the steps to safe handwashing and awareness sessions in schools and health care facilities. Further, Sanitation for Millions – Pakistan was part of a panel discussion on “Hand hygiene improvement strategies in schools, healthcare and public places” with different partners like the PCRWR and WaterAid.

Sanitation for Millions – Jordan launched a social media campaign on the Facebook page of the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) to inform about the Global Handwashing Day and the importance of handwashing.

Diarrhoea is one of three major causes for deaths of children in Uganda, killing 33 children every day, according to UNICEF.  Educators and health workers in Uganda, in coordination with Sanitation for Millions, held educational and demonstration sessions on the importance of handwashing, effective handwashing tips, handwashing steps, and critical handwashing moments, emphasizing the role of hand hygiene in infection prevention and control. In addition, Sanitation for Millions – Uganda conducted an awareness-raising event on the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in promoting hand hygiene in their community, involving key community influencers such as political leaders.

More than four million people in Colombia live in poverty and lack access to clean water, safe sanitation, and hygiene. In collaboration with the Municipality of Cúcuta, the Health Department and the Family Welfare Institute of Colombia, Sanitation for Millions – Colombia held three events in Cúcuta that took place in a primary health care unit and two early childhood centres, serving the indigenous population. About 540 people participated in the events, which included interactive and culturally sensitive games, various practical and playful activities. Specialized personnel were present to help the deaf and blind population. Communication products, such as a video fun song and educational video on proper handwashing for children were created in cooperation with the female artist group La Siembra. In the future, the video will be shown in the city’s health centres.