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Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is a global advocacy day dedicated to help increase awareness of good hand hygiene practices. This initiative was launched by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008 with the objective of bringing simple yet crucial hand hygiene habits such as washing hands adequately with soap and water into the global spotlight. GHD has since become an annual trademark event that serves as a reminder to one and all of the importance of hand hygiene.

This year, Global Handwashing Day themed, “Clean hands: a recipe for health”, focuses on the intrinsic link between hand hygiene and food. The goal is to promote hand washing at critical times of the day, such as before food preparation and during meals.

As the theme for 2018 takes a more intimate approach towards cultivating better hand hygiene practices, the focus is now turned towards how parents can play a part in helping their children develop these habits before meal times. A global study conducted by Rentokil Initial this year with 14 families across the UK, South Africa, France, Spain and Malaysia, found that when families implemented a proper hand hygiene routine, family members’ awareness in hygiene level increased in tandem. The results for Malaysian families showed that hygiene levels increased by 67% for adults and 27% for children respectively.

Carol Lam, Managing Director of Rentokil Initial Malaysia, commented: “One of the most intriguing research findings indicated that adults with poor hand hygiene levels naturally saw similar trends in their children. Those of us who juggle with work and family know that it can be hard enough to get children to eat their dinner — let alone wash their hands before meals. However, the research clearly demonstrates how effective a good hand hygiene routine can be. As the adult’s hands get cleaner, so too do the children’s. This shows the significance of establishing good hand hygiene habits from an early age and its influence across the entire family unit.”

Outside of home, schools are the second most vital environment in which the development of good hand hygiene habits can be brought about amongst children. As a leader in hygiene and pest control services, Rentokil Initial Malaysia has spearheaded initiatives that help drive the message of inculcating good hand hygiene habits in schools. As part of their ongoing commitment to improve health standards for children, Rentokil Initial Malaysia launched a rebranded CSR programme themed “Better Futures” in early 2018. Better Futures aims to spread awareness amongst primary school pupils regarding good hand hygiene habits as well as educate them about the benefits of adopting such habits.

Thus far, Rentokil Initial branches in different states of Malaysia have collectively adopted a total of 9 schools, in efforts to achieve the goal of raising a generation that will lead better and healthier lives through proper hand hygiene. In addition to educating children, Rentokil Initial also hopes to coach teachers in these schools to incorporate hand hygiene education into their lessons while reinforcing Better Future’s message. Overall, 1,700 primary school pupils and 50 teachers from all across Malaysiahave already benefited from this programme, and Rentokil Initial Malaysia hopes to impact the lives of hundreds more before the year comes to a close.

“One of the leading causes of child mortality today is diarrhoea, which can be prevented or significantly reduced through good hand hygiene habits. I hope that with this year’s Global Handwashing Theme, more awareness can be raised about the importance of hand hygiene as well as the role parents can play to improve their child’s long term health. I also hope that through Rentokil Initial’s educational programmes, we can continue to engage both parents and children in raising hand hygiene standards together successfully.” Carol Lam added.