Do you know that each year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated in over 100 countries around the world, and involving over 200 million people? Before writing this post, I had no idea that handwashing was celebrated in such a global scale, much less that a day was devoted to handwashing.
The objectives of Global Handwashing Day are to foster and support a global culture of handwashing with soap, shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in every country, and to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.
Now, knowing a little bit on the history of handwashing can be quite interesting too. Just three short paragraphs, I promise you. Please read on.
Before scientists knew about germs, handwashing has not always been believed to reduce the transmission of disease. Up until the late 1800’s, surgeons didn’t scrub or wash their hands before surgery. Very often, they would move from dissecting a corpse through to examining new mothers without washing their hands. This led to a high mortality rate in maternity wards.
In the 1840’s, a physician named Ignaz Semmelweis realised the link between handwashing and the spread of infection between patients. Through insisting his staffs to wash their hands with various antiseptics, Dr Semmelweis has greatly reduced the deaths in his wards.
After Dr Semmelweis passed away, the germ theory was confirmed by Louis Pasteur and handwashing became a more accepted practice among doctors back then. Fast-forward to today, handwashing is a part of our everyday life, and it becomes a practice to wash our hands before eating, after toileting and sneezing or coughing.
From an article that I read recently, I also realized that diarrhea is the second largest cause of child mortality, and at least 3,000 kids under the age of 5 die each day succumbing to diarrhea. It’s an alarming figure, but we may not feel the impact here because 80% of these deaths occur in South Asia & Africa, which are also the primary regions for Global Handwashing Day activities.
As a mother, I admit that diarrhea is one of my biggest fears. We had a really bad experience three years ago, and since then, we’ve become even more careful in preventing the spread of germs by washing our hands scrupulously with antibacterial soap.
Little Edison was just two years old when he caught the nastiest diarrhea in his life that lasted for almost two weeks. This was the time when our patience was truly being tested with many sleepless nights, countless messes and endless worries.
The poor boy has to be cleaned and changed frequently throughout the day and night. Diarrhea came with vomiting, making it twice as hard to handle. We were devastated to hear that there was no medication to stop diarrhea in young children, except by taking oral rehydration fluid to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration.
Looking back, this was a hard experience that we’ve learnt. One key point that I want to emphasize today is – handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. Lifebuoy handwash kills 99.9% of germs in just 10 seconds.
We all know that children are notorious for passing germs back and forth as they touch and share while playing. And since their immune systems are not fully-developed, it’s easy for a runny nose in one child to magnify into a full-fledged cold in another.
As a parent, we can stop the spread of germs and keep our children healthy by teaching them how to wash their hands effectively with antibacterial soap. It’s something quick and easy that I’ve been teaching Little Edison since young, and hopefully it will become a healthy habit that he will carry over to his adulthood.
If you don’t know how to wash your hands, oh no, what I mean is – if you need some tips on how to teach your children to wash their hands properly, please read HERE.
I reckon our boy has already got used to the constant handwashing reminders from this nagging mom, but he still does it whenever requested.
To help him on this, I’ve dedicated the sink in our maid’s toilet that is lower and easy for him to reach specifically for handwashing and we don’t use that sink for other chores. An antibacterial soap and hand towel are also in place for his use.
In summary, as the world is going to celebrate the Global Handwashing Day soon, let us re-emphasize the importance of handwashing to our children. You’re also welcomed to join Lifebuoy’s Global Handwashing Day Facebook tab HERE.