The importance of hand-washing marked on Global Handwashing Day


In Bangladesh, 52,970 students washed their hands simultaneously and set a world record. ( Unilever/Lifebuoy)
October 9, 2011

On Saturday, more than 200 million children from 100 countries will celebrate Global Handwashing Day. In countries including Peru, Ghana, Nepal and the Philippines, children in more than 700,000 schools will come together to wash their hands — and spread the word about the importance of hand-washing with soap before handling food and after using the toilet.

Diseases are easily spread from hand to mouth by pathogens, tiny germs too small to see. But hand-washing with soap can help prevent diarrhea-related diseases such as typhoid and cholera, and respiratory infections including pneumonia and flu.

That lesson is important for kids everywhere, but it’s especially important in parts of the world where people don’t have easy access to clean water and toilets. An amazing 884 million people (or almost three times the population of the United States) don’t have clean water.

Participants in Global Handwashing Day bring attention to those issues and have fun at the same time:

●In Indonesia, children produce school plays about hand-washing.

A child in Bangladesh shows his clean hands. (Kem Sawyer)

In Pakistan, doctors visit schools and show cartoons to promote hand-washing.

●In Bangladesh in 2009, 52,970 children washed their hands at the same time in different locations — a Guinness World Record.

●Kenya set a Guinness World Record in 2010 by having the most people — 19,352 — wash their hands at the same time in the same place. ●

On Saturday and every other day, kids can show their families and communities that hand-washing is an effective and inexpensive way to prevent disease.

— Kem Knapp Sawyer

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