PHILIPSBURG (DCOMM):— 15 October marks Global Handwashing Day. The theme is “Clean hands – a recipe for health!”
In 2017, more than 500 million people promoted the simple, life-saving act of handwashing with soap on Global Handwashing Day.
The day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) in 2008 to help communities, advocates, and leaders spread the word about handwashing with soap, according to GHP.
The day has been 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.
To reach this goal, handwashing must be practiced at key times, such as before preparing food or eating, after using the toilet or sneezing. Behavior change is essential for making handwashing a habit.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says that handwashing with soap is one of the most important public health interventions in the world.
GHP says the 2018 theme emphasizes the linkages between handwashing and food. “Handwashing is an important part of keeping food safe, preventing diseases, and helping children grow strong.
“Yet, handwashing is not practiced as consistently or as thoroughly as it should be. Diarrheal disease limits the body’s ability to absorb nutrition from food and is a major cause of death in low resource settings. Handwashing with soap is an effective way to prevent these losses.
“Critical food-related times for handwashing with soap include: before cooking or preparing food, before eating, and before feeding someone (including breastfeeding).
“The contamination of food can lead to a wide range of illnesses and outbreaks, many of which are particularly dangerous for young children and people with compromised immune systems,” according to GHP.
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.
Handwashing with soap impacts not just health and nutrition, but also education, economics, and equity.
The observations and creating awareness of the annual theme is part of CPSs annual calendar of health observances.
Many infections start when hands are contaminated with disease-causing bacteria and viruses. This can happen after using the toilet, changing a child’s diaper, coughing, sneezing, touching other people’s hands, and touching other contaminated surfaces.
Handwashing with soap works by removing bacteria and viruses from hands before they get a chance to cause infections or spread to other people. This is why cleaning hands with soap, particularly after contact with fecal material from using the toilet or cleaning a child’s bottom, is so important.
For more information, you can call CPS 542-1322, 1122, 1222 or 542-1570.
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