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18 Million children participate in Global Handwashing Day

Global Handwashing Day 2010: ‘More than just a day’ campaign

Dhaka, 20th October 2010: Approximately 18 million children will be involved in various activities today in order to promote handwashing with soap as part of the observance of the Global Handwashing Day. In Dhaka, more than fifty thousand students will gather at the Residential Model School and College and pledge to wash their hands with soap.

By making the pledge, children are making a promise to themselves and their communities to always practice good hygiene and help to reduce the occurrence of diarrheal diseases. The children will demonstrate hand washing with soap along with dignitaries including the State Minister of the Local Government Division, Jahangir Kabir Nanok, UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy, and other partners.

A total of 75,000 primary and secondary schools along with 8000 madrasas (religious schools) are set to take part in this one-day event to celebrate the third annual Global Handwashing Day.

According to a report by UNICEF and WHO , Bangladesh is among the 10 countries in the world that report the largest number of child deaths due to diarrhea. A total of 50,800 children under the age of five years die every year in Bangladesh from diarrheal diseases. The death toll worldwide is 3.5 million.

Research shows that washing hands with soap is a highly cost-effective health practice that can reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by over 40 per cent. But, despite its life-saving potential, effective handwashing is seldom practiced as many people do not use soap and only wash one hand.

Global Handwashing Day was launched in 2008 as a public-private partnership with Unilever, UNICEF and Governments as key players. The partnership is now endorsed by 13 international and national organizations. Although the world celebrated the day on the 15th of October, Bangladesh is observing it on the 20th since the 15th was a public holiday.

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