CPV: For the third annual Global Hand washing Day (October 15), today, more than 200 million schoolchildren, parents, teachers, celebrities and government officials around the world will lather up, but at the end of the day, they aim to have more than just clean hands.
The theme of this year's Day – more than just a day – aims to make the simple, life-saving practice of washing hands a regular habit.
Global Handwashing Day partners are promoting this behavioral change not only by organizing activities in more than 80 countries to raise awareness of the benefits of handwashing, but by ensuring that schools and communities have the support they need to make the practice routine.
Each year, diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children under the age of five. Washing hands with soap and water especially at the critical times - after using the toilet and before handling food - helps reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by more than 40 per cent, yet this simple behavior is not practiced regularly.
Vietnamese children are washing their hands with soap.
In Vietnam, hygiene knowledge and behavior is a major concern. According to the National Sanitation Baseline Survey conducted in 2006 by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, only 12% of the rural population washed their hands with soap before eating and only 16 per cent did that after defecation. Most of the rural population (98%) did not know that hand-washing with soap is essential to help prevent infectious diseases.
Global Handwashing Day shines a spotlight on the importance of handwashing with soap and water as one of the most effective and affordable health interventions. Today's message is being brought to playgrounds, classrooms, community centers, public spaces and the air waves.
Although at school children are taught to wash their hand with soap after using toilet, the survey also found out that only 36% of the schools had hand-washing areas and only 5% had soap available for hand-washing.
A number of activities to support the Day will be organized in many local authorities by Vietnamese Government with support from the international organizations and private sector. These include hand-washing competition in primary schools, hygiene and sanitation festival in schools. Key messages to promote hand washing with soap will be disseminated via various ceremonies, launches, meetings and mass media.