Handwashing with soap is estimated to reduce incidents of diarrhea by 30% and respiratory infections by 21% in children under the age of five.
Hand washing with soap is extremely effective and the most inexpensive way to prevent diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARI). Pneumonia, a major ARI, is the number one cause of mortality among children under five years old, taking the life of an estimated 1.8 million children per year. Diarrhea and pneumonia together account for almost 3.5 million child deaths annually. Handwashing with soap is estimated to reduce incidents of diarrhea by 30% and respiratory infections by 21% in children under the age of five.
It is important to turn handwashing into a habit. According to the official site, turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit was projected to 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.Handwashing is usually integrated together with other sanitation interventions as part of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes.
GHD helps raise awareness of the importance of washing with soap, but it also makes it fun for children to get involved.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since 2008, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals.