News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Global Handwashing Day Celebrated Worldwide 15 October

Global Handwashing Day Celebrated Worldwide 15 October

13 October 2013 – Tuesday (15 October) marks the annual Global Handwashing Day, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap, as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.

Since its inception in 2008, designated as the International Year of Sanitation by the UN General Assembly, Global Handwashing Day has been echoing and reinforcing the call for improved hygiene practices worldwide.

The driving theme for Global Handwashing Day is children and schools.

Children acting as agents of change, taking the good practices of hygiene learned at school back into their homes and communities. The active participation and involvement of children, along with culturally sensitive community-based interventions aim at ensuring sustained behavioral change.

Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the majority of child deaths.

Every year, more than 3.5 million children worldwide, do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia. The simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrheal rates among children under five by almost 50 per cent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.

Global Handwashing Day also provides an opportunity to think about some of the chemical ingredients that are actually used in many soap and hand washes.

At latest count, there are more than 84,000 chemicals in existence for commercial use with 1,000 new chemicals being developed every year around the world. The problem is that legislation hasn’t been keeping up with chemical development and long after they’ve been made available for everyday use, links are being made between some of these chemicals and health concerns like hormone disruption, allergies, asthma and even cancer.

“Unfortunately, the majority of people assume that the chemicals we ourselves use and put on our babies and children daily, have been thoroughly tested and regulated, and are safe for even the smallest bodies. However when it comes to soaps and body products even less testing is required,” says campaigner against toxic chemicals and founder of ecostore, Malcolm Rands.

New independent testing from the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), has recently revealed finding a potentially cancer-causing chemical (*note - this has been proven in animal studies) in many body care products including soaps and hand washes sold by major New Zealand national retailers. The chemical in question is cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA).

“While good hand washing technique is very important, there are many chemicals such as tricolsan, parabens, cocamide DEA and SLS cocamidopropyl betaine that are widely used in many soaps and hand washes. These chemicals can dry and irritate the skin by stripping away the protective oils and lead to more serious conditions like eczema and dermatitis. In generally healthy households anti-bacterial chemicals such as tricolsan are not needed to kill germs and can actually lead to antibiotic resistance. It has become a common ingredient thanks to marketing hype designed to sell the companies’ products.

“When most people wash their hands, it’s cleanliness not nasty chemicals on their minds. ecostore’s attitude is if there is scientific proof or any doubt that such chemicals could harm us, we use the precautionary principle and we find a safer one,” says Rands.

To learn more about Global Handwashing Day please go to



© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Charlotte Yates' Mansfield Project

Katherine Mansfield's vapid verses are of even less interest than her over-rated short stories, but Yates has risen to the challenge of producing a fascinating compilation album by a variety of musicians to accompany her poetry. More>>

Howard Davis: Dazed & Confused by Beats

Beats is both a coming-of-age tale and a romantic movie about endings, set to a nostalgic backdrop of the disappearing tail of the UK's illegal rave scene. More>>

Howard Davis: And The Oscar Goes To … Parasite

For its deliciously dark wit and genre-bending ingenuity, Bong Joon-ho's latest movie has just won four out of a potential six Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Director. Only ten foreign-language films have previously been nominated for Best Picture and none have won before. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland