The effort to improve handwashing is led by “the Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing, which includes support from UNICEF, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, and soap producers such as Unilever” (Shrieves, 10/14). “More than 200 million children, teachers, celebrities, parents and government officials will wash their hands on third annual Global Hand-washing Day” to promote “behavioral change,” TopNews Arab Emirates reports (Sandhu, 10/15).
The Los Angeles Times continues, “Washing hands with soap at critical times – after contact with feces and before handling food – could reduce diarrheal rates by up to 47 percent, researchers say. However, rates of handwashing with soap remain low throughout the developing world and large-scale promotion of handwashing behavior change is a challenge.” The day’s events, which 80 countries will take part in, are focused on school-aged children and women of reproductive age (10/14).
U.S. Under Secretary of State Maria Otero “reinforced the United States’ commitment to addressing the challenges surrounding water, sanitation and health (WASH)” Wednesday, saying that “the U.S. government will begin a new partnership with the Millennium Water Alliance, Global Water Challenge, and the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group to highlight water, sanitation and health issues in developing countries,” according to a State Department press release. The initiative will “enable Ambassadors and other senior U.S. officials to engage host government and local communities” on water, sanitation and health and “its relationship to health, education, and gender equity” (10/13).