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For many of us, washing our hands is a habit acquired in our early years. We almost unconsciously link handwashing to everyday activities like using the bathroom, eating and preparing meals. But, on a global scale, the handwashing habit has yet to completely solidify. In some circumstances, skipping handwashing is due to lack of awareness and understanding of its effectiveness in washing away illness-inducing germs and bacteria. In other cases, it's due to a scarcity of handwashing elements, including soap and water.
That's why on October 15, millions of people worldwide are recognizing the necessity and benefits of hand washing with soap by participating in Global Handwashing Day, established by Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW).
"Global Handwashing Day reminds us all that developing a regular habit of hand washing with soap is the most basic and efficient way to counteract illnesses and diseases," said Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development for Bradley Corporation, an international manufacturer of commercial handwashing products. "This annual event underscores how the simple act of washing hands, which we sometimes take for granted, can improve our health and well-being – and ultimately save lives around the world."
According to the PPPHW, research shows handwashing with soap can cut the incidence of diarrhea by almost one-half and acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter. In all, this simple action can help prevent illnesses that contribute to the deaths of 1.7 million children worldwide each year.
The mission of this annual event is to encourage and support a global and local culture of handwashing with soap, highlight the state of handwashing around the world, and build awareness of the health benefits of handwashing, particularly with soap. The event is endorsed by numerous governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, nongovernmental organizations, private companies, and individuals worldwide.
Americans' Handwashing Habits
Since 2009, Bradley Corp. has conducted a Healthy Hand Washing Survey to keep its pulse on Americans' handwashing habits in public restrooms. The annual survey has revealed a key disconnect between Americans' words and actions. Just 69 percent of those surveyed say they always wash up after using a public restroom – even though the vast majority believe it's important to do so. And, almost 80 percent report they frequently or occasionally see others leave a public restroom without washing their hands, particularly in the men's room.
When asked to cite the reasons for not washing their hands in restrooms, most respondents pointed to the absence of soap, nonworking and unclean sinks, and a lack of paper towels. Unfortunately, almost 70 percent say they've had an unpleasant experience due to the conditions in a public restroom – which represents an increase from 51 percent in 2012.
"Medical experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that developing a habit of consistent and thorough hand washing with soap and water is the best prevention of cold and flu germs and the spread of other contagious illnesses seen around the globe like diarrhea and pneumonia," Dommisse said.
"In addition to advocating access to and education of universal handwashing practices, Global Handwashing Day is a great reminder for businesses and facilities to ensure they are providing clean and well-maintained facilities that promote thorough handwashing," Dommisse said.
Source: Bradley Corporation: