'Get involved in Handwash Day', companies urged

15th of June 2010
'Get involved in Handwash Day', companies urged

The organisers of Global Handwashing Day are calling on companies across Europe and the rest of the world  to get involved in this year’s event, the third annual Global Handwashing Day (October 15) both as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and to capitalise on the event commercially. Jo Jacobius writes for ECJ.

Research shows that a huge number of people fail to wash their hands properly and so for European companies, the opportunities to grow the hand-wash market are enormous.
Over 80 countries were involved last year, including the UK, Hungary and Turkey and the hope is that more of Europe will lend weight to the campaign this year.  Details of the international activities are available at the global site www.globalhandwashingday.org

One of the most active nations is the UK and experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who are coordinating the UK’s efforts, are hoping that this year even more UK-based companies will support the programme.  Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the LSHTM, said: “Global Handwashing Day offers a serious reminder to everyone about the importance of handwashing with soap. It is a highly cost-effective health intervention and is proven to significantly reduce the risk of certain infections.

"But to succeed, we need the active involvement of private sector companies – both those involved in the industrial & institutional or consumer markets. Involvement in Global Handwashing Day is a cost-efficient way of companies generating more publicity for their products and services”.

Exceptional opportunity

Helen Tipper, the UK administrator for this year’s Global Handwashing Day, urges companies to get involved. She explained: “This provides an exceptional opportunity to get involved at any level and so I am asking UK companies to contact me to discuss the options or to  or to apply for the corporate sponsorship pack. Companies elsewhere in Europe can contact the relevant organisers for their territory via the international site”. Contact Helen Tipper via: globalhandwashing

Handwashing with soap is often overlooked just because it is so simple and easy to do, but the benefits are significant. Handwashing with soap has been proven to:

• Reduce the risk of diarrhoeal diseases by up to 50 per cent

• Protect against respiratory infection, reducing risk by an estimated 23 per cent

• Reduce the risk of pneumonia infections

• Protect against pandemic flu

• Reduce absenteeism amongst pupils avoiding the additional effects on parents who would otherwise need to take time off work to care for their children.

Despite these now well-documented benefits, there is still a long way to go until hand washing with soap becomes a universal habit, according to Val Curtis. “We monitored a UK motorway service station and found that of the 330,000+ people who used the toilets, only 32 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women washed their hands with soap. It would also be interesting to know how different countries compare,” she said.

The key focus for Global Handwashing Day 2010 is children and schools and the coalition plans to implement a range of activities including school competitions, teaching resources and new research into handwashing in the UK all to create a buzz around the tremendous importance of handwashing with soap.

Helen Tipper added: “The private sector has a key role to play in hand washing. Soap companies know what changes behaviour and understand how to design and deliver effective campaigns to promote the use of soap. It is vital that the health sector and trade organisations work together to deliver hand washing promotion messages and activities. It is not too late to get involved
and the eye-catching logo can be used on relevant materials by those involved”.

The Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap, helped to establish Global Handwashing Day.

For more information visit the website: www.globalhandwashingday.org


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