October 15, 2015, marks the 8th annual Global Handwashing Day. This observance increases awareness and understanding of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease around the world.
Handwashing with soap has an important role in child survival and health. About 1.8 million children aged <5 years die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two causes of death among young children globally. Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among this age group by about 30% and respiratory infections by about 20%.
Although persons around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands because soap and water for handwashing might be less accessible in developing countries. Even when soap is available, it might be reserved primarily for laundry and bathing instead of for handwashing. Washing hands with soap removes bacteria much more effectively.