Pakistan | News | Press releases | 2011 | WHO to highlight benefits of handwashing, 15 October 2011

WHO to highlight benefits of handwashing, 15 October 2011

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ISLAMABAD - World Health Organization (WHO) joined hands with the government on Friday to celebrate Global Hand-washing Day in Poly Clinic to raise awareness about the benefits of hand-washing with soap and share scientific evidence showing hand-washing with soap to be an exceptionally efficacious and cost-effective health intervention ritual.

During the ceremony, WHO representatives shared many studies suggesting that the bacteria that caused hospital-acquired infections most frequently spread from one patient to another by the hands of healthcare workers. Cleaning hands before and after contact with patients is one of the most important measures for prevention of the spreading of bacteria in healthcare settings
WHO’s main focus during the event was to sensitise healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, sanitary staff, etc) to the fact that hand hygiene was the single most important method of preventing and controlling infection in healthcare facilities. Soaps and hand gels are to be distributed with brief demonstrations to promote hand-washing with soap.

WHO representatives claim that the simple act of washing one’s hands with soap can significantly cut the risk of diarrhea by 50 percent and that of respiratory tract infection by 45 percent. WHO estimates say that diarrhea kills one child every 30 seconds. Scientific research shows that hand-washing with soap prevents disease in a more straightforward and cost-effective way than any single vaccine. Hand-washing with soap thus represents a cornerstone of public health. It can be considered an affordable, accessible, “do-it-yourself” vaccine. 15 October marks the annual Global Hand-washing Day, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand-washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases. WHO is celebrating the day in 80 districts of Pakistan, mainly targeting Internally Displaced Persons’ camps, schools, healthcare facilities and other community centres, mobilising people to wash their hands with soap.