The Global Handwashing partnership has set aside 10th October as Global Handwashing Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and impressing upon the masses to understand the importance of using soap while handwashing as a surefire way of preventing diseases and saving lives.
Last year’s theme was “Clean Hands – A recipe for health.” Its main aim is to highlight the link between food and handwashing. It is important to note that handwashing is a vital part of preventing diseases, keeping food safe while aiding children grow strong.
Food hygiene and Handwashing
The key tenets of food hygiene are keeping utensils clean, handwashing with soap as well as properly preparing and storing food.
Numerous research statistics associate up to 70% of diarrheal cases with poor food hygiene. Diarrhea and other food-borne ailments have been a leading cause of death for children aged five and below particularly in low income areas. Contaminated food can lead to further illnesses which could be dangerous to people with compromised immune systems as well as to expectant mothers and their unborn children.
Activities that promote hygiene have by extension led to people taking food hygiene a lot more seriously while reducing the risks of contaminated food. Important times for handwashing with soap include before cooking food, before eating and before feeding someone, inclusive of breastfeeding. Laying emphasis around these times can have the effect of making handwashing with soap habitual, probably almost second nature.
Nutrition and handwashing
Handwashing with soap has been estimated to reduce diarrheal ailments by between 27% and 48%. Further research shows that handwashing with soap and the use of clean drinking water has the potential to reduce nutrient loss through diarrhea and stunting in children under the age of five by up to 15%.
Wasting and severe malnutrition have also been linked to poor hygiene. Handwashing can reduce the likelihood of wasting and is of utmost importance in the first few months of life of a new born.
Handwashing is without a doubt beneficial to nutrition, food hygiene and general well-being. We can encourage everybody to enjoy and adopt handwashing with soap by;
- Making it a habit to wash our hands with soap before preparing and serving meals
- Making a point of reminding others to always wash their hands before eating
- Making handwashing a part of your household’s meal culture
- Advocate for effective handwashing behavioral change within your local communities
Here is a video to stress the importance of handwashing: