Handwashing with soap has an important role to play in child survival and health. Approximately 2.2 million children aged <5 years die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two causes of death among young children globally (1). Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children aged <5 years by 30% (2) and the incidence of respiratory infections by 21% (3).
Although persons around the world clean their hands with water, few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap removes bacteria much more effectively (4).
Additional information on Global Handwashing Day is available from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/features/globalhandwashing. General handwashing information is available from at http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing. Information on water-related hygiene is available athttp://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/index.html.
Liu L, Johnson HL, et al.; Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group of WHO and UNICEF. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: an updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. Lancet 2012;379:2151–61.
Ejemot RI, Ehiri JE, Meremikwu MM, Critchley JA. Hand washing for preventing diarrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;(1):CD004265.
Aiello AE, Coulborn RM, Perez V, Larson EL. Effect of hand hygiene on infectious disease risk in the community setting: a meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 2008;98:1372–81.
Burton M, Cobb E, Donachie P, Judah G, Curtis V, Schmidt WP. The effect of handwashing with water or soap on bacterial contamination of hands. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2011;8:97–104.