Every day, 3,000 children under the age of five still die from diarrhea, making it the second most common cause of child mortality worldwide, The Guardian reports. But that's 3,000 fewer children a day than were dying five years ago, thanks to Global Handwashing Day, a simple lifesaving initiative that celebrates it's fifth anniversary today.
Global Handwashing Day raises awareness around the world for the importance of handwashing as an effective yet inexpensive way to fight diarrheal and acute respiratory infections. The initiative is a public-private partnership between organizations including UNICEF and Unilever, "the world's leading health soap."
Teaching children to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating could save more lives than any single vaccine, according to the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing.
The campaign's child-centric focus (check out this handwashing video from Australian kid's band The Wiggles) is no accident, according to the day's founders.
Global Handwashing Day focuses on children because not only do they suffer disproportionately from diarrheal and respiratory diseases and deaths, but research shows that children – the segment of society so often the most energetic, enthusiastic, and open to new ideas – can also be powerful agents for changing behaviors like handwashing with soap in their communities.
Lifebuoy's Facebook is asking people to "like" it's handwashing pledge. For each pledge, the company said it will teach another child hygiene education.
Other handwashing-themed events include an attempt to break the Guniness World Record for number of people washing their hands at one time as well as the London Short Film Festival's The Golden Poo Awards (this year's winner, "Men, Loos and Numbers Twos"). There's even a handwashing game that allows players to "clean up" germs by sharing facts about hygiene via Twitter and Facebook.
The Center for Disease Control has a lot of helpful links for anyone looking to get involved with the outreach program, or looking to celebrate Global Handwashing Day in his or her community.
Those worried they've missed out on an opportunity to share the importance of handwashing need not worry. World Toilet Day, which also raises awareness for the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene is right around the corner.