Announcement: Global Handwashing Day — October 15, 2016

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October 15, 2016, marks Global Handwashing Day. This observance increases awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable means of preventing disease around the world.

Handwashing with soap plays an important role in child survival and health. An estimated 1.8 million children aged <5 years die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two causes of death among young children worldwide (1). Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among this age group by approximately 30% (2) and respiratory infections by approximately 20% (3).

Although water is commonly used to wash hands, because of the limited availability of soap in developing countries, many persons do not use soap for handwashing. Even when soap is available, it is often used primarily for laundry and bathing rather than handwashing. Washing hands with soap effectively removes bacteria (4).

Additional information on handwashing and Global Handwashing Day is available at Information on water-related hygiene is available at


  1. Liu L, Johnson HL, Cousens S, et al. Child health epidemiology reference group of WHO and UNICEF. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: an updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. Lancet 2012;379:2151–61 . CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  2. Ejemot-Nwadiaro RI, Ehiri JE, Arikpo D, Meremikwu MM, Critchley JA. Hand washing promotion for preventing diarrhea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015; (9):CD004265 . CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  3. Aiello AE, Coulborn RM, Perez V, Larson EL. Effect of hand hygiene on infectious disease risk in the community setting: a meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 2008;98:1372–81 . CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  4. Burton M, Cobb E, Donachie P, Judah G, Curtis V, Schmidt WP. The effect of handwashing with water or soap on bacterial contamination of hands. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2011;8:97–104 . CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon

Suggested citation for this article: Announcement. Global Handwashing Day — October 15, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:1119. DOI: icon.

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