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A review of several studies by the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), shows that hand-washing in institutions such as primary schools and daycare centres reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by an average of 30%. Rates of hand-washing around the world are low. Observed rates of handwashing with soap at critical moments – before handling food and after using the toilet – range from zero per cent to 34%. “More than 1.5 million children under five die each year as a result of diarrhoea – it is the second most common cause of child deaths worldwide. Hand-washing with soap can save lives by reducing diarrhoea rates by more than 40%.

Global Handwashing Day was initiated in 2008 by the global Public Private Partnership for hand washing with soap, and it is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe

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