Global Handwashing Day

Back to list 2019-10-10 10:29:32


October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

The 2019 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Clean Hands for All.” This year’s theme follows the push to leave no one behind in the Sustainable Development Agenda. Inequalities in handwashing facilities and effective handwashing promotion programs can put individuals at higher risk for diseases that impact their health, education, and economic outcomes.

This year’s theme reminds us that we must be inclusive when addressing handwashing disparities.

It means that people in all regions of all countries have access to basic handwashing facilities with soap and water.

Only 60% of the world’s population has access to a basic handwashing facility.

• In the world’s least developed countries, only 28% of people have access to basic handwashing facilities. In some countries like Liberia, only 1% of the population has access to such facilities.

• Currently, there are 17 countries where more than 10 million people lack handwashing facilities. The availability of soap and water at handwashing facilities varies substantially.

For example, in Ethiopia, only 0.1% of households had soap and water at the handwashing facility while in Iraq, 91% had these items available.


Diarrhea and pneumonia are leading causes of death for children under the age of five. Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent these diseases. This simple behavior can save lives, cutting diarrhea by almost one-half and acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter.


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 50% of cases of child undernutrition are due to repeated diarrhea and intestinal infections caused by poor sanitation and hygiene conditions or lack of safe water. Handwashing with soap is a critical determinant for achieving and maintaining good nutrition. This healthy behavior plays an important part in preventing micronutrient deficiencies, stunting, wasting, and deaths.


Good hygiene practices help ensure children are healthy, so they can attend class and learn. Globally, children miss a cumulative 272 million schooldays each year due to diarrhea, and handwashing with soap has been found to help reduce school absenteeism that is caused by diarrhea, influenza and conjunctivitis by up to 50%. The use of hand sanitizers was found to reduce rhinorrhea, a common symptom of the flu and cold-like illnesses.


Lack of investment in handwashing leads to additional healthcare costs, lost or decreased productivity, and loss of life. For example, research has found that a national handwashing behavior change program would provide a 35-fold return on investment in China, and a 92-fold return in India.

Handwashing is substantially less expensive than other public health interventions. A 2013 study indicated that in some developing countries, annual net costs of diarrhea and pneumonia incur more than $12 billion per year, while estimated costs of a national handwashing program would be less than $100 million and bring $2 to $5 billion in savings.

If all Global Handwashing Day celebrants advocate for handwashing with soap every day, not just on October 15, we can make significant progress in moving toward the goal of increasing hygiene programs, investment, and behavior.

About MSH China

Founded in 2001, MSH China is a French international company specialized in high-end insurance services for corporate and individual clients. Our multicultural International department is dedicated to serve foreigners living in Asia. Leader in China, our reputation has been made from our efficient customer service and call center, a large hospital network and a cost sensitive approach. 



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