World Hand Washing day is celebrated globally in order to raise awareness among population about regularly washing hands with soap at critical times and its importance. Its objectives include creating new ways to increase global awareness about benefits of washing hands and observe the state of hand washing worldwide. It focuses on ensuring local and global facilities for hand wash.
It was created in the year 2008 during the Stockholm World Water Week and United Nations appointed October 15th to be marked as World Hand washing Day each year. It illustrates hand washing as an easy, convenient and inexpensive way to prevent infections and keep germs away. Each year over 70 countries and millions of people participate in celebrations of global handwashing day. Several schools, institutions, NGOs and both private as well as public sector entities play important role in embarking the spirit of keeping hands clean through various drives and involving public participation in such events. The theme for 2015 Global handwashing day is "Raise a Hand for Hygiene". This year theme is action-oriented where people can identify themselves as a hygiene champion to increase awareness about hand washing benefits. Sachin Tendulkar, Indian cricket legend and a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations children's fund UNICEF showed local children in Colombo how to use soap and water to wash their hands before meals and avoid the risk of diseases.
How Washing Hands Benefits HealthIt may sound eerie that washing hands can benefit health but regular hand wash with soap not only does keep you clean and hygienic but also prevent the spread of many contagious diseases like common cold, flu and diarrhea to more serious diseases like meningitis and hepatitis. Here's how hand washing plays an important role in promoting health:
1. It's the first line of defense: Washing hands acts as our first line of defense against most bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. A contaminated place, person or thing if touched then hands are the first body organs to come in contact with germs. Washing our hands with soap refrain entry of diseases causing germs into our body through mouth, nose or skin. Skin is the only barrier between infectious organisms and internal organs, and washing hands remove such germs from skin itself preventing them to affect vital organs like lungs, liver and stomach.
A time to time hand washing habit could save you from many life threatening conditions like meningitis, bronchitis, hepatitis, jaundice and even fatal viruses like H1N1 and Ebola.
2. It's safe and easy: Hand wash is the safest and easiest way to keep infections away. There are no medicines and medical procedures involved and you are safe from diseases in no time. We just need to develop the habit of keeping our hands clean and remain protected. In fact hand wash is the most inexpensive method to maintain your body immunity and prevent infections.
3. Kids are protected against regular infections: Infants and school going children are at a greater risk of developing infectious diseases soon. It is important to keep them safe and maintain their proper hygiene so that they are not affected by millions of germs floating around. Communicable diseases spread due to physical contact with person, food, objects, water and infected air.
Children must be educated about the benefits of washing hands before and after meals in school and at home. Hand washing for kids is also necessary when they return from play or after school. This regular habit helps protect kids against infectious diseases and improve their immunity.
4. Maintains hygiene: A proper hygiene could avert many medical conditions. Hand washing is the most efficacious method to maintain body hygiene. One who has the habit of washing hands at critical times will be more hygienic and thus healthy. It prevents dirt and germs and keeps skin clean and healthy. Regular hand wash while suffering from any communicable disease could restrict its spread keeping others safe.
Wash your hands with soap properly before and after meals, after returning from outside/work, after traveling (especially public transport), sports and after having used the toilets.
5. Important for doctors and patients: For doctors it is of utmost importance to keep themselves safe from infectious organisms. Doctors being regularly contracted by many bacteria and viruses need to be more careful than others. Washing hands thus play an important role in protecting doctors from getting sick.
In the same manner hospitalized patients are surrounded by wrath of disease causing organisms that could make their illness worse. They are always advised to keep their hands clean in order to prevent worsening their condition.
6. More effective than vaccines: Vaccines are another way of boosting immunity against infectious diseases but are not effective against each and every microbial strain. There are hundreds of known and unknown bacteria and virus in atmosphere and we cannot devise vaccines for each of them. Washing our hands is the most effective way to keep ourselves healthy and hygienic. It restricts more microbial infections than a vaccine could.
Hand washing is not an alternative to vaccination but definitely an aid towards better health.
Proper Hand Washing ProcedureLike any other activity washing hands also have a correct procedure to follow for maximum benefit. The steps are:
- Wet your hands with warm water.
- Take few drops of liquid soap (or apply soap bar) on your hands and apply it all over your hands. Work up into lather at both sides.
- Properly clean between fingers and nails. Remove any rings and watch for better cleaning.
- Clean your wrist too.
- Now rinse hands thoroughly under running water.
- Pat dry with towel.
- Keep a separate towel for each family member.
How you can Advocate Hand Washing at your Home, Institution or Work Place
- Create awareness among children about hand washing benefits.Put interesting hand washing posters, hand washing signs and pictures near wash taps at schools and institutions to create awareness.
- Include more children and adult participation in events like celebrating global hand washing day.
- Organize various fun games and competitions like quiz on hygiene and sanitation.
- Make a hand washing policy for your institution.
- Different ideas and creative outlook could help promote hand washing as a health benefiting method and make people aware about it.