The event was jointly organized by Unilever Viet Nam Fund, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Training.
October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to improving awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap.
Addressing the meeting, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that washing hands with soap is a simple action but the rate of frequent hand-washing with soap remains low in Viet Nam, even at medical establishments. Washing hands with soap is an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases such as hand-foot-mouth disease, diarrhea and typhoid fever, particularly among pupils.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long delivers a speech at the meeting.
He called on sectors, administrations at all levels, organizations and media agencies to join hands with the health sector in promoting communication campaigns in different forms to raise public awareness of the importance of hand-washing.
At the meeting, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Training and the Unilever Vietnam Fund pledged to jointly carry out programs on improving public health and developing green, clean and strong schools in Vietnam for 2017-2022.
Under the framework of the event, leaders of Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Training and as many as 2,000 teachers and pupils of Kim Dong and Hoang Hoa Tham Primary Schools washed their hands with soap at the meeting.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund report (UNICEF), poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and inadequate personal hygiene are responsible for an estimated 88 percent of childhood diarrhea. Approximately 1.7 million children die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two causes of death among young children globally.
Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent these diseases. This simple behavior can save lives, cutting diarrhea by almost one-half and acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter. Meanwhile, handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, and affordable do-it-yourself protection that prevents infections and saves lives.
Since 2008, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands.
Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals.
Viet Nam has actively responded to Global Handwashing Day through various communication campaigns.
The 2017 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Our hands, our future!” This theme reminds us that handwashing protects our own health, but also allows us to build our own futures, as well as those of our communities, and the world. Because handwashing is an affordable, effective way to achieve these goals, by having the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and communities, and reduce inequities. Promoting the benefits and practice of handwashing with soap, as well as fostering access to and improving hygiene facilities will help us work towards a future where that potential is realized.