Global Handwashing Day: History, Significance and Theme for 2021

2 min read

Global handwashing day is celebrated on 15 October every year with the intension of raising awareness about the importance of washing hands with soap, and how it can help us prevent diseases and save lives.

This day emphasises on the need to encourage people through different creative ways to wash hands not only for the purpose of cleaning them, but also to rid them of disease causing germs that have proved to be fatal in recent times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance this small habit that goes a long way, and we need to continue to practice it even as the pandemic eases.


Global Handwashing Day: History

Global handwashing day was celebrated in the year 2008 for the first time by the handwashing partnership in Stockholm, Sweden. That year was also celebrated as the global sanitation year.

Later, the UN decided to celebrate 15 October as the global handwashing day every year.

On the first global handwashing day, 120 million children from 73 countries across 5 continents celebrated this day by washing their hands with soap and water.

In the year 2012, the global handwashing partnerships introduced a series of Think Tanks which focused on building partnerships, building the gaps and finding ways to bring change in the handwashing behaviour of people.

Global Handwashing Day: Significance

Global handwashing day promotes the habit of handwashing at home, and in communities across the world. According to the reports of CDC, germs and bacteria on the hands are responsible for 1 in 3 diarrheal cases and 1 in 5 respiratory cases such as cold or flu.

The right handwashing pattern can reduce diarrheal diseases by 24 to 40 percent, gastrointestinal diseases in children by 29-57 percent and respiratory diseases like cold, flu by 16-20 percent. That is why its important to make sure you wash your hands after using the toilet, while cooking food, before having meals and after sneezing or coughing.

Global Handwashing Day: Theme for 2021

The theme on the global handwashing day 2021 is “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together.”

This theme has been decided by keeping in mind thedevastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Somewhere, a part of the widespread outbreak can be attributed to negligence of hand hygiene.

This theme emphasises on the need to stay alert and careful even if we have entered the phase of new normal after battling the worst phase of COVID-19.

It aims to call out governments, health care organisations and health societies to come together and design a few programs and policies that can help promote the importance and need for washing hands with soap and clean water.

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