Clean hands – a recipe for health is the theme of Global Handwashing Day on October 15. Why a special day for handwashing and why would clean hands be a recipe for health, you might ask.
Regular handwashing with soap is a simple, cheap and effective way in which you can protect yourself and your family from many common and life-threatening diseases. In South Africa, diarrhoea causes 1 in 5 deaths in children under five years old. About 4 in 10 of these cases could be prevented by simple handwashing. It can even prevent colds and flu, certain types of pneumonia, and combat outbreaks of deadly Cholera and Ebola.
Our hands can spread disease when they become contaminated with bacteria and viruses in any of a number of ways – using the toilet, touching other people or contaminated surfaces, coughing and sneezing. These disease-causing organisms can then either enter our own bodies or be passed on to the next person.
This is why we should wash our hands often and especially after using the toilet or handling waste, and definitely before working with food and eating.
You can help spread the word on Global Handwashing Day by reminding everyone, and especially children, how important it is to wash their hands before every meal. Make sure that you model good handwashing behaviour yourself.
You can contribute even further by helping to make sure that there is a place to wash hands, with soap, in every home, workplace and school.
No running water available? This problem is easily solved by installing a tippy tap which provides water for handwashing. Very little water is needed for a tippy tap and anyone can make one using a large plastic bottle and some string. A number of sites on the internet have written or video instructions on how to make one.