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Countries Celebrate Seventh Global Handwashing Day

October 15, 2014
Public Health

wash handsOver 100 countries around the world will celebrate Global Handwashing Day today. Originally established in 2008 by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing the theme for this year’s event is ‘Choose handwashing, Choose health’, emphasising the need for healthier lifestyles.

With the Ebola outbreak in West Africa producing daily headlines, the campaign comes at a particularly relevant time, as Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes explained. “It is clear there is no simple fix, and it is going to take a massive international effort to stem the tide of this disease,” he said. “But it is crucial to get the word out on what measures can be taken now in the hardest hit areas, even as additional help continues to arrive from the outside. Handwashing is one of those measures.”

UNICEF has been responsible for distributing around 1.5 million bars of soap in Sierra Leone in an attempt to promote handwashing in the country. Figures released by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation show that during 2013 more than 340,000 children under five died from diarrhoeal diseases due to lack of safe water supplies, sanitation and basic hygiene. Researchers have also found handwashing to be an effective method of reducing the spread of pneumonia, which is responsible for more deaths in children under five than any other condition.

You can find out more at the Global Handwashing Day website here