The Global Handwashing Partnership: Leading the Way for Handwashing with Soap Action

Students celebrating Global Handwashing Day 2016 at Kalayaan Elementary School in North Caloocan, Philippines. Photo credit: Philippine Department of Education, courtesy of GIZ

The Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) envisions a world where everyone consistently and frequently washes their hands with clean water and soap. In that world, children don’t needlessly suffer and die from diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, patients and health care staff have much lower risks of infections in health settings, and women and girls have access to hygiene facilities to safely manage their menstruation with dignity.

A founding partner since the GHP was established in 2001, USAID has remained an important stakeholder and member of the GHP Steering Committee over the past 16 years. Providing funding and technical expertise through its Bureau for Global Health, USAID today continues to support the GHP in promoting handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable “do-it-yourself vaccine” that prevents infections and undernutrition. The GHP shines a spotlight on emerging topics related to handwashing with soap by publishing new resources  on topics like: hygiene in emergency settings, the impact of hygiene on antimicrobial resistance, integrating behavior change nudges and inclusive WASH programming, and the role that companies can play in expanding access to essential, low-cost WASH products. Knowledge dissemination, in forums such as a recent webinar on hygiene compliance and WASH in health care facilities, has been vital to the GHP’s success in educating and informing WASH practitioners.

The GHP brings together the expertise, resources, and the reach of partners around the world to encourage handwashing with soap. In addition to USAID, the GHP’s partners represent the public and private sectors in WASH, health, nutrition, education, economic development, global equity, and more. If your organization, institution, or company is interested in joining the GHP, you can learn more here about applying to be a member. Affiliation with the GHP enables members to learn from each other, share knowledge and strategies, align objectives and resources, and create and harness synergies to improve lives through the effective promotion of handwashing with soap. You can also easily stay up to date on the latest evidence and new innovations in hygiene by subscribing to the GHP’s monthly newsletters.

Planning is already well-underway for the GHP’s annual flagship event, Global Handwashing Day, celebrated October 15. Every year, Global Handwashing Day provides an opportunity for advocacy, public education, and knowledge sharing on handwashing with soap. Last year’s observance showcased its global impact, in countries as diverse as Kenya, Ethiopia, Jordan, Iraq, Nepal, and Cambodia. Overall, more than 210 million people worldwide participated in handwashing-related events held in more than 125 countries. Social media helped amplify Global Handwashing Day’s impact considerably, reaching roughly 108 million people with messaging related to handwashing.

The Global Handwashing Day 2017 celebration — with a theme of  “Our Hands, Our Future” — will build on the considerable success of last year’s event. In June, the GHP held its first global call to kick off planning efforts for this year’s celebration. You can learn more about the call’s key takeaways here, and please be sure to visit the Global Handwashing Day website for resources to help you plan your Global Handwashing Day 2017 celebration!

Bijan Manavizadeh is the Program Officer for the Global Handwashing Partnership.

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Global Handwashing Partnership
Bijan Manavizadeh
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Population Focus
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