Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is an international handwashing promotion campaign to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits. Washing hands at critical points during the day and washing with soap are both important.
Global Handwashing Day occurs on 15 October of each year. The global campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key factor in disease prevention. Respiratory and intestinal diseases can be reduced by 25-50%.
Global Handwashing Day was initiated by the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) in August 2008 at the annual World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. This means that the first Global Handwashing Day took place on 15 October 2008. The date was appointed by the UN General Assembly. The year 2008 was also the International Year of Sanitation. The founding bodies in 2008 included: FHI360 (a nonprofit human development organization based in the US), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Procter & Gamble, UNICEF, Unilever, World Bank Water & Sanitation Program and the United States Agency for International Development.
The Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) (formerly called “Public Private Partnership for Handwashing” (PPPHW)) established Global Handwashing Day in 2008 as a way to promote a global and local vision of handwashing with soap.
Steering Committee members of the GHP include Colgate-Palmolive; FHI 360; The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Procter & Gamble; UNICEF; Unilever; University at Buffalo; USAID; the Water and Sanitation Programme at the World Bank; and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.
Continued research on handwashing habits and practices is commissioned in conjunction with GHD. In 2011, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA), sponsored a study to assess the handwashing habits of American and Canadian adults, finding that many were not using soap when washing their hands.