Let’s celebrate Global Handwashing Day!
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocating for handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is celebrated every year on October 15th and is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.
Global Handwashing Day is especially important this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since there is still no vaccination against COVID-19 nor a widespread herd immunity, frequent handwashing with soap remains one of the most effective, easy and inexpensive preventative measures against COVID-19 infection and transmission!
Lao PDR has been celebrating Global Handwashing Day for many years now in Vientiane Capital, with support provided by the Fit for School program in past celebrations. However, beginning from this year onwards, all provinces and districts in Laos are asked to organize the Global Handwashing Day celebration on their own to help raise awareness for the importance of handwashing. This year´s event in the capital Vientiane was conducted in the Nongping primary school and kindergarten with attendance by other school principals of the district and a handwashing dance performance by the Nongping students.
In Cambodia, Fit for School supports the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to celebrate the national level GHD on 17th October 2020 in Peam Chikang Primary school, Kong Meas district in Kampong Cham province under the chairmanship of of H.E Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport. Kampong Cham is one of our five scaling-up focus provinces in 2020, we will take a big part in the celebration and support the other four provinces in Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stun Treng and Tbung Khmum in their provincial level celebrations in the coming weeks. Due to a national holiday on the 15th the GHD usually takes place a bit later in Cambodia.
In Indonesia, the Ministry of Health used the GHD to launch the PPP-HWWS coalition, a call for national action of hand hygiene for all, and an advocacy campaign which will be supported by international organizations, including GIZ. The Ministry of Education and Culture has organized a 3 hours online activity that included the launching of the school sanitation profile which was supported by Fit for School, a talk show, and a presentation and video on WinS. The Ministry of Religious Affairs launched the madrasah sanitation profile that was supported by FIT already on October 13th both offline and online, where the German Embassy in Indonesia together with UNICEF and SNV gave opening remarks.
The Philippines Department of Education (DepEd), together with the Department of Health, is hosting the Clean Hands for All: Learning and Partnership Symposium on 15-16 October 2020 in celebration of the Global Handwashing Day. The event aims to bring together multiple sectors and stakeholders in creating hand hygiene culture, share current and innovative practices for behaviour change and creating an enabling environment for hand hygiene across different settings, and identify key actors and next steps to take forward the development of a national hand hygiene roadmap. The Fit for School Programme is an active member of the WASH in Schools (WinS) Technical Working Group (TWG) along with other development partners in the implementation of WinS program in the Philippines. WinS data shows that the conduct of daily group handwashing activity in schools improved from 26.8% in SY 2017-2018 to 44.4% in SY 2019-2020. In its continuing support to handwashing advocacy, the Fit for School is preparing and coordinating for handwashing facilities support, capacity building activities like conduct of WinS webinars, and the scaling up of the WinS Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Handwashing with soap is also a major component of the Fit for School program package. The Fit for School program works to improve the health and education of school children by making schools and communities healthy places and by introducing hygienic and healthy habits through daily group practice, such as daily group handwashing with soap.