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It?s World Handwashing Day!

October 15, 2013
Public Health

Today is the 6th annual World Handwashing Day with events across the globe helping to promote the crucial role that an activity most people take for granted can play in Public Health. New figures from UNICEF estimate that worldwide, 1,400 children under five still die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. This year’s theme is ?The Power is in Your Hands? which Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF?s head of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes, says sums up the importance of such a simple activity. ?The evidence is clear.? Each individual?every mother, every child, every teacher, every member of every community?can contribute to the health of all by just washing their hands,? said Wijesekera. ?If you knew of something monumental that could benefit the world, you would do it. Everyone has this power ? simply wet, lather and rinse – with soap and water.?

Diarrhoea is still the second largest cause of death amongst children under five globally with studies having shown that good hand hygiene can cut cases by up to 50% as well as reducing respiratory infections by up to 25%. The legacy of illness is also felt in later life with low developmental weights making children more prone to disease. Global Handwashing Day started in 2008 which was declared the International Year of Sanitation and has gathered followers ever since. Further details can be found at http://globalhandwashing.org/ghw-day.

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