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Published on Oct 16, 2008
NEW YORK, 15 October 2008 Today marks the first ever Global Handwashing Day, celebrated in over 70 countries across five continents in an effort to mobilize and motivate millions around the world to wash their hands with soap.
Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal disease and pneumonia, which together are responsible for approximately 3.5 million child deaths every year.
Children are highly susceptible to the diseases caused by a lack of effective sanitation and poor hygiene. More than 5,000 children under the age of five die every day as a result of diarrheal diseases, caused in part by unsafe water, lack of access to basic sanitation facilities and poor hygiene.
By washing hands with soap, families and communities can help reduce child morbidity rates from diarrheal diseases by almost 50 per cent.