|Schoolchildren throughout the Americas Will Soap Up toward a Guinness World Record|
Millions expected to participate in the 3rd annual Global Handwashing Day, Oct. 15
Washington, D.C., October 14, 2010 (PAHO) — Schoolchildren throughout the Western Hemisphere are gearing up for a mass handwashing event that could break a Guinness World Record set last year on Global Handwashing Day.
This Friday, Oct. 15—the 3rd annual Global Handwashing Day—students, teachers, parents and other supporters throughout the Region will start washing their hands en masse at the same time (4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time) in an attempt to set a new record for “most people washing hands at multiple locations.” They will have to beat the record set last year by Bangladesh, where 52,970 people washed their hands simultaneously on the 2nd annual Global Handwashing Day.
Global Handwashing Day is being promoted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and other partners to raise awareness of one of public health’s most effective and affordable interventions, particularly for preventing diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, which claim the lives of more than 3.5 million children under 5 worldwide each year.
Research shows that washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds —especially after using the toilet and before handling food— can reduce diarrheal illnesses by more than 40 percent. Unfortunately, the practice is not common and is difficult to promote. Global Handwashing Day was established to try to transform handwashing from an abstract idea to an automatic behavior.
Worldwide, more than 200 million children and adults in over 80 countries around the world are expected to participate in this year’s Global Handwashing Day.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, countries including Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay are promoting the effort nationally. Schools throughout the Americas, however, are expected to participate and document their events to help set a new world record.
For an event to qualify, participants must use soap, water, and disposable paper towels; the event must be witnessed by a designated authority (e.g., police officer, physician, mayor, justice of the peace, or public notary); tickets with the names of participants must be collected; and photographs, videos or newspaper clips about the event should be submitted to the PAHO representative’s office in the country (see www.paho.org/wash/ghd2010).
Global Handwashing Day is an initiative of the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap and is supported by PAHO, UNICEF and other U.N. partners, as well as governments, nongovernmental and civil society organizations, private companies and individuals worldwide.
PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world’s oldest public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Other media contacts:
Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization