June 17, 2021

Today is Global Handwashing Day

Today is Global Handwashing Day! One of the best ways to prevent foodborne illness and other diseases is to thoroughly wash your hands frequently. And correctly. Many people do not wash their hands correctly, which increases your odds for catching the flu, a cold, or a bacterial infection. In fact, 50% of flu cases and 60% of gastrointestinal illnesses in schools are spread by dirty hands. Hand washing with soap and water is more effective at removing bacteria and viruses than antibacterial liquid.

Washing handsHuman feces are the main source of pathogens that cause diarrhea. One gram of human feces can hold 10 million viruses and one million bacteria. Using the toilet, changing a child’s diaper, or cleaning the bathroom can deposit fecal materials onto your hands. Studies have shown that children who live in homes exposed to handwashing promotion have half the diarrhea illness rates of other children. The people at the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW), in fact, say that “promoted on a wide enough scale, hand washing with soap can be thought of as a ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine, and could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention.”

Fight Bac! has a hand washing poster that illustrates the exact steps to take to clean your hands properly. Thoroughly wet your hands under clean warm running water. Apply soap, and rub your hands together. Don’t forget to wash between the fingers, under the fingernails, and the backs of your hands; those areas are frequently neglected. Rub soap into your hands for 20 seconds. You can sing “Happy Birthday to You” twice as a good indicator of time.┬áRinse under clean warm running water. Then thoroughly dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towels.

Remember that handwashing with soap is the single most cost-effective intervention against diarrheal illnesses, and it “reduces disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) related to diarrheal illnesses by a significant margin”, according to PPPHW.

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