Originally created for children and schools Global Handwashing Day on October 15 is celebrated by over 200 million people in over 100 countries worldwide. The day aims to promote the benefits of handwashing with soap and to raise awareness on the state of handwashing in all countries.

Handwashing in schools in the SNNPR, Ethiopia.jpgShining Light on Neglected Tropical Disease Prevention​

One significant benefit of handwashing with soap is its impacts on reducing the prevalance of parasitic worms and sticky Soil Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections which are easily transmitted in the body if not washed off properly.

Over 600 million school-age children are infected with parasitic worms and they typically have the highest burden of worm infection of any age group, with the majority of those infected being in low and middle income countries. These infections severly impact child learning, development and health and frequently cause malnutrition and anaemia

An integrated handwashing and NTD programme in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia's Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples' Region a programme is currently being implemented which integrates both WASH, NTD prevention alongside school feeding using locally sourced food. To date, this programme entitled the, "Enhanced School Health Initiative (ESHI)" has seen handwashing stations and latrines built in 15 schools, accompanied by hygiene promoting materials, which reach a total of 18,000 children to discourage their reinfection of STH. 

The ESHI programme has been made possible with the support of philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares​ to Imperial College London's Partnership for Child Development, Schistosomiasis Control InitiativeWorld Food Programme and Dutch development organisation, SNV who have been working with the government to implement the programme.