Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Global Hand-Washing Day works to prevent spread of disease: Events planned for Oct. 15

Today marks Global Hand-Washing Day and more than 200 million people will be involved in events around the world. The observance spreads the message that regularly washing your hands with clean, running water and soap is an important step in keeping yourself from getting sick and spreading germs to others.

Hand-washing with soap is one of the easiest ways to prevent diarrhea, a leading cause of death for children worldwide, as well as acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

In our newest podcast, APHA’s Get Ready Report team speaks with Alfonso Contreras, regional advisor for health promotion at the Pan American Health Organization, about the importance of proper hand-washing.

“We are talking about one of the most cost-effective procedures in public health,” Contreras says. “We don’t realize sometimes that some of the classic measures are still some of the best resources that we have in public health.”

Global Hand-Washing Day organizers are hoping to break a Guinness World Record of people demonstrating hand-washing at the same time on Oct. 15. The region of the Americas already holds the record, with more than 740,000 people taking part in 2011, but the goal this year is to have more than 1 million participants, Contreras said. Public health advocates are encouraged to take part, and planning tools are available from PAHO.

Remember, just because your hands don’t have any visible dirt on them doesn’t mean that they are clean. Here are some tips when it comes to hand-washing, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • Wash your hands several times a day, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • After wetting your hands with water and applying soap, rub your hands together. Make sure to clean the back of your hands, under your nails and between your fingers, and continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • When water and soap are unavailable, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Remember that hand sanitizers do not kill all types of germs, and should not replace routine hand-washing with soap.
Listen to our podcast with Contreras or read the transcript for more information. And make plans to celebrate Global Hand-Washing Day on Oct. 15!

For tips and tools to use at your events, check out our Get Ready hand-washing fact sheets, which are available in both English and Spanish.

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