Now, less than a month after this initiative was announced, comes the first Global Handwashing Day. UNICEF has reported that, even though it has been proven to be extremely beneficial to child health, handwashing with soap remains at dangerously low levels in many countries. UNICEF claims that children will continue to catch easily preventable diseases like diarrhea, which can be fatal for children in critical health conditions, if improvements in hygiene do not supplement access to water and sanitation.
Sanjay Wijesekera, the global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation, and hygiene programs says that “from birth - when unwashed hands of birth attendants can transmit dangerous pathogens - right through babyhood, school and beyond, handwashing is crucial for a child's health. It is one of the cheapest, simplest, most effective health interventions we have.”