GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – 15 October marks Global Handwashing Day. The theme is “Make Handwashing a Habit!”
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.
Every year, 1.7 million children around the world do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia.
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.
Handwashing with soap improves health and saves lives by preventing infections (diarrhea, pneumonia and acute respiratory infections, Ebola, skin and eye infections, intestinal worms, and healthcare associated infections).
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.
A single gram of human feces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria, and infant feces are particularly pathogenic.
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.
In 2008, the first Global Handwashing Day took place. Since this date, millions of people demonstrate each year the great importance of handwashing on the 15 of October.
For more information, you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003.