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Millions Soap Up to Commemorate Global Handwashing Day

by Portal Web Editor last modified Oct 16, 2014 01:55 AM
Contributors: USAID
Improving child survival requires promotion of healthy behaviors.
Millions Soap Up to Commemorate Global Handwashing Day

Photo credit: USAID / Afghan Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS)

Handwashing. It is a simple behavior with a big impact. Given the role that hygiene can play in public health – from preventing the common cold to slowing the spread of infectious organisms like Ebola – embracing innovations in approaches, behavior change, and programming is becoming increasingly important.

Since 2008, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated every October 15 worldwide to support the universal promotion and practice of proper handwashing with soap at critical times to prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections, with a specific focus on newborns.

Eighty five percent of the 2.9 million newborn deaths that occur every year are caused by infections, prematurity, and complications during labor. Up to two-thirds of these deaths can be prevented by simple, low-cost maternal and newborn health interventions.

One such intervention is handwashing with soap. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported research is strengthening the evidence base on infection management in young infants, especially in community-based settings. A recent community study in Nepal concluded that handwashing with soap can reduce newborn deaths by up to 44 percent. For countries where newborn mortality is high, adopting handwashing with soap as a standard practice before delivery and while handling newborns is not only important, but also it saves lives.

Learn more about Global Handwashing Day
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