Global Handwashing Day

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Global Handwashing Day
Global Handwashing Day (emblem).jpg
Logo used for Global Handwashing Day around the world. Shown in the image are water, soap, and hand.
Date 15 October
Next time 15 October 2015 (2015-10-15)
Frequency annual
First time October 15, 2008
Related to Menstrual hygiene day

Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is a campaign to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits by washing their hands with soap at critical moments throughout each day. It takes place on October 15 of each year. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.[1]


Global Handwashing Day 2008 celebrations with celebrities at City Central School in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Dry run with kids at City Central School in Cagayan de Oro on how to wash hands with soap during Global Handwashing Day 2008 (Philippines)
Global handwashing day celebrations with the Mayor of Lusaka in Zambia
Global handwashing day celebrations in Indonesia in 2008

The campaign was initiated to reduce childhood mortality rates related respiratory and diarrheal diseases by introducing simple behavioral changes, such as handwashing with soap. This simple, accessible action can, according to research, reduce the rate of mortality from these diseases by almost 50 per cent.[2]

Importance of handwashing[edit]

Hand washing with soap is the single most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhea and acute respiratory infections (ARI).[3] Pneumonia, a major ARI, is the number one cause of mortality among children under five years old, taking the life of an estimated 1.8 million children per year. Diarrhea and pneumonia together account for almost 3.5 million child deaths annually.[4] Handwashing with soap is estimated to reduce incidents of diarrhea by 30% and respiratory infections by 21% in children under the age of five.[5]

It is important to turn handwashing into a habit. According to the official site, turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit was projected to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.[6] Handwashing is usually integrated together with other sanitation interventions as part of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes.

GHD helps raise awareness of the importance of washing with soap, but it also makes it fun for children to get involved.[7]


The aims of Global Handwashing Day are to:[citation needed]

  • Foster and support a general culture of handwashing with soap in all societies
  • Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in each country
  • Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.

Implementation and management[edit]

The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) established Global Handwashing Day in 2008 as a way to promote a global and local vision of handwashing with soap.[5]

Members of the PPPHW include the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Procter & Gamble; the University at Buffalo; FHI 360; Unilever; the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC); the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[8]

In each country where activities are planned, a convening institution brings together other organizations that have an interest in handwashing to coordinate activities.

Activities and celebrations[edit]


  • On October 15, 2014, Madhya Pradesh won the Guinness World Record for the most massive hand washing program.[9] There were 12,76,425 children in 51 different districts participating.[9]
  • Sometimes, groups choose to celebrate GHD on other dates than October 15. In Ethopia, 300 people celebrated Global Handwashing Day in Addis Ababa on November 1 in 2013.[10]


GHD was created at the annual World Water Week 2008, which was held in Stockholm from August 17 to 23 and initiated by the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). The first Global Handwashing Day took place on October 15, 2008, the date appointed by the UN General Assembly in accordance with year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation.[11]

The theme for Global Handwashing Day’s inaugural year in 2008 was "School Children". In that year, the members pledged to get the maximum number of school children handwashing with soap in more than 70 countries.

In India in 2008, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and his teammates joined an estimated 100 million schoolchildren around the country in lathering up for better health and hygiene as part of the first Global Handwashing Day.[12]

Founding bodies[edit]

Founding bodies in 2008 included: FHI360, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Procter & Gamble, UNICEF, Unilever, World Bank Water & Sanitation Program, United States Agency for International Development

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rai, Frank (12 August 2009). "Lae Marks Global Handwashing Day". Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea). Retrieved 24 July 2015 – via Newspaper Source - EBSCO. 
  2. ^ Curtis, Val; Cairncross, Sandy (May 2003). "Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review". The Lancet Infectious Diseases 3 (5): 275–281. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(03)00606-6. 
  3. ^ "MOH Celebrates Global Handwashing Day". Arabia 2000. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2015 – via Newspaper Source - EBSCO. 
  4. ^ The State of the World’s Children 2008. Child Survival. UNICEF
  5. ^ a b "Global Handwashing Day". MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 61 (40): 821. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ Larsen, Linda (15 October 2013). "Today is Global Handwashing Day". Food Poisoning Bulletin. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Sawyer, Kem Knapp (10 October 2011). "Getting All Lathered Up". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 July 2015 – via Regional Business News - EBSCO. 
  8. ^ "Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives". Saudi Gazette. 16 November 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "MP Creates World Record for Mass Handwashing Initiative; Guinness Book Acknowledges Feat". Hindustan Times. 3 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Bizuwork, Demissew (4 November 2013). "Ethiopia Celebrates Global Handwashing Day". UNICEF Ethiopia. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "Global Handwashing Day". World Health Organization. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Walker, Angela (16 October 2008). "Star Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar Promotes Handwashing in India". UNICEF. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 

External links[edit]