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Global Handwashing Day a reminder about the importance of washing hands with soap

Infection prevention and control
14 October 2022

Tomorrow, 15 October, is Global Handwashing Day. It is an important reminder to everyone about the importance of washing their hands with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2022 is ‘Unite for universal hand hygiene’.

This year’s theme calls on everyone to protect themselves, their family and whānau, and their community by handwashing with soap. When handwashing with soap is practised regularly at key times, such as after using the toilet or before and after contact with food, it can dramatically reduce the risk of many diseases.

Handwashing with soap helps prevent gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhoea, respiratory diseases like pneumonia and influenza, and healthcare-associated infections.

However there is a wide variation across the world with regard to access to proper handwashing facilities, including the water needed for handwashing, and exposure to effective handwashing messages that encourage people to wash their hands at critical times.

This is reflected in the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF report: Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020: five years into the sustainable development goals.

The report presents estimates of progress on the delivery of safely managed drinking water, sanitation and basic hygiene services at national, regional and global levels. It shows that current efforts to improve access to these crucial services is not enough to achieve the targets set by the WHO (which includes handwashing) by 2030.

Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008 and is celebrated annually on 15 October. More information is available on the Global Handwashing Day website.