Opinion Former Article

MRSA Action UK: On Global Handwashing Day help “Make Handwashing a Habit” – spread the word, not infections

Global Handwashing Day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Celebrated annually on October 15, Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since 2008, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands.  Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world.

The 2016 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Make Handwashing a Habit!” For handwashing to be effective it must be practiced consistently at key times, such as after using the toilet or before contact with food. Habit formation is currently a hot topic in behaviour change and the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector. This theme taps into that interest and is also a gateway to discussing what the sector knows about how habits are formed.

In the words of the Greek philosopher Aristotle “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit”.

Clean hands are the cornerstone of infection prevention, by breaking the chain of infection we save lives and help keep our nations healthy. We also preserve antibiotics as every infection prevented means one less to cure.

The Global Handwashing Day website has a range of tools for promoting this event at http://globalhandwashing.org/global-handwashing-day/ghd-resources/

Children (and adults) will be holding activities around the world, there is a Social Media toolkit available, which is a great way to pass the message “Make Handwashing a Habit!” on #globalhandwashingday #GHD16.

Whether we work in healthcare or are going about our daily routine we all need a reminder from time to time. Follow the hash-tags on social media to see how children are raising the bar, even with their limited resources. Help to save lives by following their example.

Derek Butler
MRSA Action UK
07762 741114

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