Global Handwashing Day: Support Global Handwashing

October 13, 2011
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I have always been interested in the power of preventions rather than cures for infectious diseases. Simple preventative measures, like handwashing with soap at key points during the day is so normal for many people, but in developing countries, over 3.5 million children under five die every year of diseases caused by a lack of hygiene. Most people have access to soap but don’t wash their hands at the right moments to prevent the spread of germs and instance of disease.

I have always been interested in the power of preventions rather than cures for infectious diseases. Simple preventative measures, like handwashing with soap at key points during the day is so normal for many people, but in developing countries, over 3.5 million children under five die every year of diseases caused by a lack of hygiene. Most people have access to soap but don’t wash their hands at the right moments to prevent the spread of germs and instance of disease.

It’s not easy to change people’s behaviour. It is important to have a wide understanding of consumer habits, cultures and lifestyles to ensure the right messages gets to the right people. Working in a public/private partnership enables the pooling of resources to do this effectively. The private sector can bring consumer understanding and reach while the public sector can bring different channels and access to the poorest of the poor. Combining their resources can allow more sustainable solutions. That is why a number of the most successful campaigns are run by public/private partnerships. 

A strong example of public/private partnerships in action is Global Handwashing Day, which is endorsed by governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals. Together, these organisations work to draw much needed awareness to handwashing with soap and help push hygiene higher up government health agendas across the world. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Last year millions of school children made handwashing pledges and took part in awareness-raising activities such as Guinness World Record attempts, school competitions and performances. 

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This Global Handwashing Day, Lifebuoy is asking people to pledge support via Facebook. Every pledge will help Lifebuoy and partner, Population Services International, reach one more child through health and hygiene education programmes. We aim to reach one million children. Please pledge now by visiting the Facebook page and remember to wash your hands before eating!