Raise Hands to Hygiene! October 15 is Global Handwashing Day

By Mommy Donna and Kib - October 23, 2015

I do believe that good hygiene practice should start at home.  I always remind my son to always wash his hands before eating or even after doing activities which made his hands dirty.  I always remind him to always change clothes when they're dirty or he's sweaty.  Taking a bath everyday is also a must.  

Sadly, in the Philippines, diarrhea and pneumonia are among the top causes of child mortality.  According to World Health Organization, approximately 13 children die everyday due to diarrhea, totaling to almost 5,000 deaths annually.  In addition, national statistics also indicate that an estimated 37 children under the age of five die from pneumonia daily.  

These two diseases can be prevented IF we only wash our hands regularly.

Truth is, handwashing is not a habit in the Philippines.  In addition to this, water supply and sanitation is still a big problem in the country.

Last October 15, 2015, 8th Global Handwashing Day (GHD) was celebrated around the world.  Founded by the Global Private-Public Partnership for Handwashing in 2008, this day is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of handwashing with soap.  Procter and Gamble (P&G), through its flagship soap brand Safeguard, is not onlye one of the founding members of this partnership, but also continues to be a key advocate of GHD in the Philippines.  This year was no different as Safeguard Philippines brought this annual celebration simultaneously to three key cities: Manila, Cebu, and Davao.  I was blessed to attend the Global Handwashing Day celebration in Manila which was held in Tipas Elementary School in Taguig City.

This year's local theme is "Linis Lusog sa Global Handwashing Day" which focused on proper handwashing with soap as cost-effective solution to prevent diseases, including diarrhea and pneumonia.

In three key cities nationwide, Safeguard's celebration of GHD aimed to educate students and parents alike about the surprising, everyday sources of germs.  Through a fun scavenger hunt for germs, students searched through different locations like the school, the home and the playground for germs to collect.  Thinking that they found the germs, they were surprised to discover that there was more than meets they eye.  A UV light revealed that an invisible lotion was unknowingly applied on their skin while they searched through the locations.  This lotion simulated the invisible, disease-causing germs  from everyday items.  This fun activity indeed was an eye-opener for parents and kids that there are germs everywhere and is invisible to the naked eye and proper handwashing is needed to remove these germs to keep our hands healthy and clean.

The advocacy for health is no possible without the support from many partners.  P&G continues to work closely with UNICEF, the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Health (DOH) to promote health and hygiene in communities.  One of the activities being done in schools to promote proper hygiene is the group handwashing.  P&G has built handwashing facilities and implemented hygiene education programs in public schools nationwide.  Safeguard also collaborates with various organizations to help promote handwashing with soap, most recently among 8,000 school children in Tacloban.

Shankar Viswanathan, General Manager of Procter and Gamble Philippines washing hands together with the first-grade students of Tipas Elementary School

Local government engagement is very crucial in this campaign so that it will be a success.  The community is also being called upon to create a supportive environment for health.  This program is not only for schools, but for the whole barangay/town/city.

Left to right: Gerard Basaca of DOH, Deidre de Padua of P&G, Louise Maule of UNICEF and Ella Naliponguit of DepEd posing for the press

Furthermore, P&G, through Safeguard, and UNICEF aims to further improve health by implementing the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in more schools.  This will bring hygiene education and facilities to rural areas where the incidence of diseases and the child mortality rate are relatively higher.  "Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually to advocate the greater attention and investment in programmes that promote and support the life-saving practice of handwashing with soap.  We all have a hand in keeping our families, schools and communities healthy--if only through the simple habit of washing with soap frequently," shares UNICEF WASH Chief Louise Maule.

Kib posing with Ms. Louise Maule--Raise your hands to hygiene!

Health starts with proper hygiene.  On Global Handwashing Day and beyond, raise your hand to hygiene!  Protect your family from disease-causing germs with Safeguard.

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