Each year, diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children under the age of five. Handwashing with soap is the most effective and affordable health intervention to combat these deaths. Washing hands with soap and water especially at the critical times – after using the toilet and before handling food – helps reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by more than 40 percent, yet the behaviour is seldom practiced and difficult to promote.
Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines a child’s right to the best health care possible, safe water to drink, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay well.
For more information, games, tools and resources for your classroom visit the Global Handwashing Day Website: http://www.globalhandwashingday.org/
You can also find some great activities which link children’s rights to issues of clean water in this guide for young children from UNICEF UK called First Step to Rights: http://www.unicef.org.uk/tz/resources/assets/pdf/first_steps_book_2009.pdf.
What are you doing to celebrate Global Handwashing Day?