Hygiene refers to behaviours that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health, such as frequent hand washing, face washing, and bathing with soap and water. In many parts of the world, practicing personal hygiene etiquette is difficult due to lack of clean water and soap. Many diseases can be spread if the hands, face, or body are not washed appropriately at key times.
It is in this regard that the global community set aside October 15, as Global Hand Washing Day. It is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
Celebrated annually, Global Hand Washing Day was founded by Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand washing, and is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.
It aims to foster and support a global and local culture of hand washing with soap; shine a spotlight on the state of hand washing around the world and raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing with soap
The first Global Hand Washing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since 2008, community and national leaders have used Global Hand Washing Day to spread the word about hand washing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries. The day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals.
Investigations show that, although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands because soap and water for hand washing might be less accessible in developing countries such as Nigeria with high poverty rate and water scarcity. Even when soap is available, it might be reserved primarily for laundry and bathing instead of for hand washing.
But scientific discoveries have shown that washing hands with soap removes germs much more effectively. Not doing so has severe consequences on the health of both the young and adult. For instance, millions of children under the age of 5 years die from diarrhea diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around the world. Hand washing is not only simple and inexpensive, but remarkably, hand washing with soap can dramatically cut the number of young children who get sick.
On the other hand, hand washing with soap could prevent about 1 out of every 3 episodes of diarrhea illnesses and almost 1 out of 6 episodes of respiratory infection like pneumonia.
Medical experts posit that regular hand washing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps Nigerians can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the country, experts advise we use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. For us, therefore, to maintain a healthy society and environmentally-linked hygiene we need to wash hands with soap before, during, and after preparing food, before eating food, before and after caring for someone who is sick, before and after treating a cut or wound, after using the toilet, after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, after handling pet food or pet treats and after touching garbage.
In a nutshell, hand washing with soap is good for everyone. It is quick, it is simple, and it can keep us all away from getting sick. Hand washing is a win for us all, except the germs.

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