October 15 is Global Handwashing Day–a day started five years ago to promote and raise awareness about one of the easiest, yet most important, hygiene practices. Handwashing is a simple thing most of us do every day, but washing hands actually saves lives. Each year, diarrheal diseases and pneumonia kill almost 3.5 million children under five in developing countries. Our hands are the principal carriers of disease-causing germs, and if widely practiced, it is estimated that handwashing with soap could avert 1 million of those deaths. It's like a "do-it-yourself" vaccine. Now that’s a pretty convincing argument for keeping clean!
A 10-year-old girl washes her hands with soap outside a sanitary latrine at Satrashia Government Primary School at Muktagasa, Mymensingh, in Bangladesh. ©UNICEF/BANA2011-00854/HaqueWhile most people in the world have the capacity to wash their hands, and even the poorest households usually have soap, handwashing is often simply not put into practice. Awareness must grow. Habits must change. That's why, on this day, the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing, founded by UNICEF and other partners, is encouraging the world to help promote handwashing with soap: In Ethiopia, 5 million people including children are participating in public handwashing events. In Yemen, UNICEF and partners are sending SMS texts to 2.5 million mobile phone users about the importance of handwashing. And in Vietnam, the campaign has already started with a television spot featuring comedian Xuan Bac, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene ambassador, who sings a handwashing song with children. Go to globalhandwashing.org to find out how you can get involved. And there’s more: now, you can even have a say in which UNICEF projects will receive a special donation from Kimberly-Clark: Interested in taking action? We invite you to participate in the Global Handwashing Day Challenge. By answering three short questions about hygiene and sanitation, you can vote on which UNICEF lifesaving project will receive a $25,000 donation** from Kimberly-Clark, courtesy of The Healthy Workplace Project*. **The donation will be made from Kimberly-Clark to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF does not endorse any brand or product. We wish you a Happy Handwashing Day!