Global Handwashing Day: Preventing infectious diseases, one hand wash at a time

Handwashing is the most effective measure to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. By practising good hand hygiene, you can protect not only your own health but also that of your family and community.

Recently, as I was commuting from home to work, I was stuck in a typically never-ending traffic. I mindlessly started scrolling through my phone and stumbled upon a series of tempting food videos. Pani puri, with its crispy shells and tangy tamarind water, gobi manchurian, its spicy and crispy florets and my beloved dosas, thin and crispy, yet delightfully fluffy on the inside, all made a grand appearance. My mouth watered as I watched the culinary magic unfold before my eyes, but my fascination soon took an unexpected turn as a very different reel came up. A doctor shared a number of such street food photos before diving into the hygiene aspect of it. He shared how both, the vendor and we, tend to not wash our hands before or after making or eating street food. He went on to throw light on a number of diseases that can happen simply from this one unhygienic habit.

As I dove deeper into the subject, I found details that, simply put, were as filthy. Picture this – people nonchalantly wiping their hands on the edges of dosa pans, oblivious to the filth clinging to them, rinsing of utensils right by the gutter, children coming home from outdoor games and diving into a plate of food using their hands without washing them first. 

It really made me ponder if something as simple as handwashing is being overlooked by many of us. Washing our hands is not just about personal wellbeing but is a critical measure in preventing infectious diseases – a topic that aligns perfectly with the significance of Global Handwashing Day, held on October 15th. Join us as we delve into the importance of handwashing for disease prevention.

Handwashing saves lives

Handwashing can save lives. It’s not an exaggeration; it’s a matter of statistics. Every year, millions of lives around the world are saved thanks to the simple act of washing hands with soap and water. How does it work? Well, our hands are in constant contact with various surfaces and objects, many of which carry harmful bacteria and viruses. When we touch our faces, eat or prepare food with unwashed hands, we unknowingly transfer these pathogens into our bodies. This then leads to illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory infections, especially among children.

Washing hands at regular intervals frees us of the worry of catching such diseases. It is a simple but powerful habit that takes care of us on the path to our wellbeing.

Protection against infectious diseases

Handwashing plays a vital role in protecting individuals from infectious diseases by effectively removing harmful pathogens, preventing their transmission to others and ensuring food safety. 

It is particularly crucial in healthcare settings to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. By making handwashing with soap and water a regular habit, individuals can contribute to their wellbeing and also make a positive difference to the collective effort of combating the spread of infectious diseases in communities and healthcare facilities.

Handwashing in the COVID-19 era

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of handwashing has been thrust into the spotlight like never before. The virus taught us, especially those of us who are non-believers in good hygiene, a crucial lesson: our hands are potential carriers of disease and washing them frequently is one of the most effective ways to prevent infection. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided clear guidelines on hand hygiene, emphasising the need to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds regularly. The widespread adoption of this practise is an essential defence against the virus’ rapid spread.

Teaching handwashing for the future

In schools around the world, hygiene education is a vital component of the curriculum. Parents too, do their bit in teaching their children about hygiene. By instilling good handwashing habits in children, we are shaping future generations that understand the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. Initiatives like Global Handwashing Day serve as a reminder of the significance of hand hygiene and its role in public health.

Handwashing is not just a mundane task but a powerful weapon against diseases. It saves lives, prevents infections and has become even more critical in the face of global health challenges like COVID-19. As responsible individuals, it is our duty to make handwashing a habit and spread awareness about its importance to protect ourselves and those around us. Remember, clean hands can lead to a healthier and safer world for all.


What is Global Handwashing Day and why is it significant in preventing infectious diseases?

Global Handwashing Day, celebrated annually on October 15th is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of handwashing. It is significant because proper handwashing can reduce the spread of infectious diseases as it eliminates harmful germs from our hands.

How does handwashing contribute to the prevention of infectious diseases?

Handwashing is a simple yet highly effective practice. It helps prevent infectious diseases by removing germs, bacteria and viruses from our hands. When people wash their hands with soap and water regularly, they reduce the risk of contracting and spreading illnesses.

Are there specific guidelines for proper handwashing?

Yes, there are guidelines for proper handwashing. It involves wetting hands with clean, running water, applying soap, lathering thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing front and back of the hands, and finally, rinsing and drying with a clean towel or air dryer.

How can individuals promote handwashing in their communities on Global Handwashing Day?

Individuals can promote handwashing in their communities by organising awareness campaigns, conducting educational sessions and emphasising the importance of hand hygiene to the younger generation.


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