2021 theme: ‘Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together’. The theme highlights the learnings from the past year which have emphasised the need for collective action and universal hand hygiene.
Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership, a coalition of international stakeholders who work explicitly to promote handwashing with soap. The day is celebrated every year on October 15 with an aim to educate people that handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and it saves lives.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since then, Global Handwashing Day has continued to grow. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by governments, schools, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, individuals, and more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that hands are the main pathways of germ transmission and thus handwashing is the single most important measure to avoid the spread of infections and keep people healthy. According to UNICEF, the simple act of handwashing after going to the toilet or before eating can reduce the risk of children getting diarrhoea by more than 40%. In COVID-19 times, handwashing is likely to reduce the chances of COVID-19 infection by 36%.
Most of us have been washing our hands rather frequently in this COVID time. Washing our hands could be a personal reflection to remember our Baptism or it could be a time to pray over a situation in which we ask God for forgiveness. What may seem like a meaningless task can be turned into an intentional one. This could be a practice that not only cleans our hands but can open our hearts up to receive or give forgiveness through the Holy Spirit.
The Bible says that only those with clean hands and a pure heart can stand in God’s holy place Psalm 24:4
A 20 second prayer during handwashing
As I take up my hands
to wash them and
reassure my heart,
I pray for healing and wholeness
for the whole world.
I remember that every life
is unique and of infinite value:
from those living
on the most remote part of the globe
to those in our cities
to our neighbors and family members.
Let me use my hands for good
to help bring love
and compassion to others.
“Let us lift up our hearts and hands to the Eternal.” (Lam 3:41)