October 15th is Global Handwashing Day. CDC explains why handwashing deserves the recognition:
This observance increases awareness and understanding of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable method of preventing disease around the world.
Handwashing with soap has an important role to play in child survival and health. About 2.2 million children aged <5 years die each year from diarrheal diseases or pneumonia, the top two killers of young children worldwide. Handwashing is not only simple and inexpensive, but handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by 30% and respiratory infections by 21% among children aged <5 years.
Although persons around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap removes bacteria much more effectively.
Last year, Jay Graham wrote for us about some of the handwashing interventions that can succeed in areas where piped water is unavailable. Even for those of us with access to plenty of handwashing facilities, though, sometimes a reminder can be useful: don't forget to use soap, and keep rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. It might just spare you from a nasty bout of cold or flu.