Did you know that there is a “Global Handwashing Day”? Yep. Sure is. Countries around the world hold events to promote good handwashing on October 15th during this global “keep it clean” day. Heck, it even has its own web site: globalhandwashingday.org.
I have long said that medicine has done two really great things in its long history against which all else pale by comparison. The first was the “discovery” that handwashing and clean water made a difference (with the subsequent discovery of germ theory to explain why cleanliness mattered). The second was the introduction of vaccines. Nothing else in medicine comes anywhere close to having the global impact of these two for helping prevent illness and early death.
To those in well-developed countries, Global Handwashing Day may seem like something that is more important for poor, impoverished nations with sanitation problems and a poorly health literate populace. And that’s true; it is important for them. But it’s just as important, and maybe even more so, for developed nations with large populations.
Think about it. In developed nations, lots and lots of people tend to mingle in large cities, corporate offices, shopping centers, schools, parks, etc. People of developed nations also travel across broader regions more frequently bringing their germs to larger geographic areas. They may have better sanitation and water supplies, but they also create much greater opportunities for the spread of contagion.
Thus, it would be a great idea (at least, I think it would) to heighten awareness of Global Handwashing Day throughout all countries, both developed and developing. Developing countries seem to be doing this; from Ghana to Peru to Sierra Leone to Burkina Faso, governments are sponsoring events to help promote Global Handwashing Day and spread the “keep it clean” message. (In Burkina Faso, they celebrated it alongside “World Toilet Day”! Did you know there’s a World Toilet Day?)
I realize that October 15 is several months away, but is it ever really not “global handwashing day”? As mom always said, “Go wash up!”
Posted – July 10, 2012