[Dateline: New York | Author: UNICEF]
UN staffers in New York are going to soap up this 15 October, as the world celebrates the first ever Global Handwashing Day. Handwashing stations will be set up in front of the staff cafeteria at Headquarters and in the UNICEF House lobby where staff can get themselves in a lather to mark the occasion.
Festivities will go on in 62 countries across five continents in an effort to mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands, with a huge campaign planned for India where 120 million schoolchildren are slated to wash up. In West and Central Africa, activities are planned in Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. The first 20 handwashers at each site will get a handwashing pin.
UNICEF is also carrying the message to all UN staff in New York by installing handwashing counters at the entrance of the UN Secretariat and encouraging staff to wash their hands in the proper manner.
Nearly half of the world’s population, or 2.6 billion people, do not have access to adequate sanitation. This dire situation has widespread implications on human health, child survival, economic productivity and pollution of living spaces and water resources. Every day approximately 5,000 children die as a result of water borne diseases. Washing hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet can help reduce mortality rates related to diarrhoeal diseases by almost 50 per cent.
Proper handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhoeal disease and pneumonia which together are responsible of the death of approximately 3.5 million child deaths every year.
On 15 October, UNICEF volunteers will bring this lifesaving habit to the Secretariat building and UNICEF House for staff to be part of the.
A number of celebrities from around the world are also participating in this special day of the International Year of Sanitation.
The popular Australian children’s musical entertainers, the Wiggles have produced and donated a handwashing song for UNICEF on the occasion of the first ever Global Handwashing Day.
In India, international cricket sensation Sachin Tendulkar has joined forces with UNICEF to get Indian children to wash their hands for better health and hygiene as part of the first ever Global Handwashing Day.
Be ready, and remember the date: 15 October Global Handwashing Day. UNICEF will help you make of this ordinary act an extraordinary experience to share with colleagues at the workplace and millions of children across the world.