Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the majority of child deaths. This behavior is projected to become a significant contribution to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015. October 15 has been appointed to become Global Handwashing Day in accordance with year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation by the United Nations.
Hands often act as vectors that carry disease-causing pathogens from person to person, either through direct contact or indirectly via surfaces. Humans can spread bacteria by touching other people's hand, hair, nose, and face. Hands that have been in contact with human or animal feces, bodily fluids like nasal excretions, and contaminated foods or water can transport bacteria, viruses and parasites to unwitting hosts. Hand washing with soap works by interrupting the transmission of disease.
Washing hands with water alone is significantly less effective than washing hands with soap in terms of removing germs. Although using soap in hand washing breaks down the grease and dirt that carry most germs, using soap also means additional time consumed during the massaging, rubbing, and friction to dislodge them from fingertips, and between the fingers, in comparison with just using water for handwashing. Effective hand-washing with soap takes 8 – 15 seconds, followed by thorough rinsing with running water.
This video makes hand hygiene fun for young children. Sara tells the story about Germy the Germ and how to wash him away so you dont get sick. The video includes colourful animations and simple sing-along songs.
When is it most important to clean your hands?
- Before and after meals and snacks
- Before caring for young children
- After touching a public surface
- Before and after preparing food, especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood
- After using the restroom
- When hands are dirty
- After touching animals
- When you or someone around you is ill