Thousands of Fijian children celebrate Hand Hygiene for All on Global Handwashing Day

15 October 2020
Children lead on the steps of proper handwashing during the 2020 Global Handwashing Day celebration.
Children lead on the steps of proper handwashing during the 2020 Global Handwashing Day celebration.

Suva, Fiji, 15 October 2020 – Today, thousands of Fijian children celebrated Hand Hygiene for All across the country on Global Handwashing Day. In the capital Suva, children from Gospel Primary School performed handwashing demonstrations and activities to mark the day.

This event was held together with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, as well as supported by UNICEF and Colgate-Palmolive.


This year’s Global Handwashing Day is a celebration to highlight the importance of proper handwashing with soap as a central part of fighting COVID-19. It is also to mark the importance of strengthening proper hand hygiene practices as one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent the spread of other infectious diseases and to address long term illnesses, including diarrhea, typhoid, conjunctivitis or respiratory infections.

“The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark reminder that hand hygiene is a fundamental component to health and development. To beat the virus today and ensure good health overall, this year’s Global Handwashing Day emphasizes the need to take immediate action on hand hygiene across all settings to respond to and control the pandemic, said the Hon. Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete. “It also serves as a reminder of the need to build on the current momentum to ensure hand hygiene becomes a mainstay in public health interventions.”

“The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts is appreciative of the support from UNICEF, especially at a time when hand hygiene has become a norm in the daily lives of all students,” said Hon. Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Rosy Akbar. “Initiatives as such aims to take handwashing with soap as an abstract good idea and transform it into an automatic behaviour in school children. They can then become agents of change in their communities as they take home this message.”

Through a partnership between the Fijian government, UNICEF and Colgate-Palmolive, schools and health facilities reaching some 100,000 children throughout the country will be provided with soap to ensure proper hand hygiene.

“Handwashing with soap is a simple but critical, way to ensure overall health and help children grow strong and lead a healthy life,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative. “We thank the Fijian government, Colgate-Palmolive and our water, sanitation and hygiene partners for their efforts in creating lasting handwashing habits.”

UNICEF and Colgate-Palmolive are working closely to support the Fijian government to scale up its commitment to improve water, sanitation and hygiene by providing soap so that all community members can regularly wash hands properly, which is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Under the Fijian government’s lead, the unique opportunity that the Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative presents will be used to mobilize further collective actions.

“Colgate’s Global Handwashing Education Programme Clean Hands, Good Health promotes handwashing awareness targeting school children, teachers and parents, to promote proper hygiene and wellness. It determines the knowledge, attitude, practice and behaviour of the students, teachers and parents towards personal hygiene,” said Colgate-Palmolive’s General Manager, Mr. Hiten Lal. “We work towards continually improving and enhancing the quality of life of individuals and communities through a multitude of partnerships and associations.”

This support in Fiji is part of the global Hand Hygiene for All initiative that is now being rolled out across the Pacific Islands. A total of 500,000 bars of soap will be distributed to schools and health facilities in Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.


Notes to Editors:

About Hand Hygiene for All:

The Hand Hygiene for All Global UNICEF and WHO joint initiative aims to implement WHO’s global recommendations on hand hygiene for all, not only to cope with a new disease COVID-19, but also as one of the most effective tools to prevent its spread. Hand hygiene has never been more critical to combat COVID-19 as well as to prevent a range of other infections. The global initiative aims to ensure that all, including the most vulnerable communities and who continue to lack access to basic hand hygiene, are able to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic and work to ensure lasting infrastructure and behavior.

This WHO and UNICEF-led initiative calls for countries to lay out comprehensive roadmaps that bridge together national COVID-19 preparedness and response plans with mid- and long-term national development plans to ensure hand hygiene is a mainstay beyond the pandemic, as part of infection prevention and control and water, sanitation and hygiene efforts. It also proposes a framework for coordination and collaboration among global and regional partners, with the primary aim of supporting and growing country-led efforts and investments.

Read more about the Hand Hygiene for All initiative:


About the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services:

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services remains firmly committed to maintain a high standard of efficient, equitable, accessible and affordable health care service delivery to all Fijians through maintaining the Universal Health Coverage by leaving no one behind.


About the Fijian Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts:

The Fijian Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts is responsible for the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of educational legislations, policies and programmes in Fiji. MEHA provides the structures, human resources, budget and administrative and management support to ensure that the quality of service delivery is maintained at a high level.


About Colgate-Palmolive:

Colgate-Palmolive is a leading global consumer products company with 34,000 people dedicated to improving the health and wellness of people and their pets. Focused on Oral Care, Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition and reaching more than 200 countries and territories, Colgate teams are developing, producing, distributing and selling health and hygiene products and pet nutrition offerings essential to society through brands such as Colgate, Palmolive, elmex, Tom’s of Maine, hello, Sorriso, Speed Stick, Softsoap, Irish Spring, Protex, Sanex, Filorga, eltaMD, PCA Skin, Ajax, Axion, Fabuloso, Soupline and Suavitel, as well as Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet.

The Company also is recognized for its leadership and innovation in promoting environmental sustainability and community wellbeing, including its achievements in saving water, reducing waste, promoting recyclability and improving the oral health of children through its Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program, which has reached more than one billion children since 1991. For more information about Colgate’s global business and how the Company is building a future to smile about, visit


For more information, please contact:

Sunil Chandra, Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services, 

Alrina Ali, Fijian Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts,

Heena Khatri, Colgate-Palmolive,

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific,

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 715 7586


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook