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1. Purpose

The purpose of this concept note is to motivate for the commemoration of Global Handwashing
Day 2022, and the implementation of a national awareness raising campaign in schools,
households, and health establishments.
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day commemorated on 15 October,
dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing
with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent the spread of diseases. It is an
opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their
hands with soap at critical times.

2. Background

The Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) 2015, reports that about 648 million people
globally have poor access to safe water and approximately 2.3 million of the world population
is exposed to poor basic infrastructure such as toilet with no handwashing facility. According to
the World Health Organization (WHO), about 5.9 million deaths of children under 5 years
reported globally, and one of the common diseases contributing to this high mortality includes
diarrhoeal and dysentery diseases, including COVID-19 infection.
Diarrhoea and respiratory infections are a major public health problem in South Africa, and are
amongst the top causes of death of children. Respiratory and diarrhoeal infections ranked the

nd and 3rd leading causes of death amongst the under-5 population, and rated the 3rd and 4th
biggest killers in children between ages 5-14 years1
. Unsafe or lack of water supply, inadequate
sanitation services and poor hygiene (WASH) are ranked high on the list of risk factors causing
infections, diseases and subsequent deaths in children globally. Many of these infections are
preventable by simple hygiene practices.
Amongst all the WASH interventions, handwashing with soap shows the greatest reduction in
diarrhoea morbidity (over 40%) and prevent 30-47% of childhood diarrhoea and 23% of

1 Stats SA Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, findings from death notification, MR, 2nd Burden of Disease Study.

respiratory infections2
. When practiced by mothers and birth attendants can reduce neonatal
mortality rates by almost 40%. Hand washing with soap also prevents infection in HIV-positive
. New WHO data shows that if you implement water, sanitation and hygiene
interventions together, the synergies will deliver a 12% additional reduction in diarrheal disease
over implementing them separately4
. Against this backdrop, the Department of Basic Education
(DBE) has been implementing the National School Hygiene Programme in schools from 2017,
an initiative supported by Unilever through its brands, Lifebuoy, Mentadent P and Domestos.
This programme involves a 21-day behaviour change intervention in class regarding washing of
hands with soap, brushing of teeth with toothbrush and toothpaste and proper cleaning of
school toilets. These commodities have been provided to all Grade 1 learners in the country,
courtesy of Unilever. In addition, since the COVID-19 pandemic, Unilever extended the
handwashing component by the provision of soaps and handwash material targeting all

3. Objectives of the 2022 Global Handwashing Day campaign

The 2022 Global Handwashing Day falls on a weekend, therefore, this important day will be
commemorated on Friday, 14 October 2022. This campaign serves as a call for all South Africans
to wash hands regularly with soap, especially after using the toilet, changing baby nappies,
handling waste and before preparing food.

The campaign therefore aims to achieve the following objectives:

 Strengthening awareness on the importance of hand washing with clean water and soap or
use of hand sanitizers where soap and water is not readily available.
 Promoting and creating conducive environments for good hygiene practices in schools,
households and health facilities.
 Encouraging behavioral change and get people to actively engage in good hand hygiene
practices as part of the overall promotion of good health.
 Celebrating and showcasing what has been achieved over the years in promoting
handwashing with soap in schools.
 Adopting an intersectoral approach in implementing the hand hygiene practices.

4. Target audience and campaign target

The National Hand Hygiene Behavioural Change Strategy, 2020 defines children and caregivers
as the primary target audience for handwashing promotion. This is because the mission of hand
hygiene promotion is not to achieve a single handwashing event, but to instill a routine and

2 Rabie T, Curtis V. Evidence that handwashing prevents respiratory tract infection: a systematic review. Trop Med Int Health 2006;
11: 1–10.
3 Huang D, Zhou J. Effect of intensive handwashing in the prevention of diarrhoeal illness among patients with AIDS: a randomized
controlled study. J MedMicrobiol 2007; 56: 659–63.
4 and Wolf J, Prüss-Ustün A, Cumming O,
Bartram J, Bonjour S, Cairncross S, et al. Assessing the impact of drinking water and sanitation on diarrhoeal disease in low- and
middle-income settings: systematic review and meta-regression. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 2014;19(8):928-42

sustained habit that happens automatically at critical times. Therefore, it is critical to target those
groups of society that will enable promotion programmes to have the largest impacts.
Habits are often developed in childhood and children are more susceptible to behaviour change
and the uptake of new habits. Schools are a key site for learning new habits. Additionally, children
can be enthusiastic and effective handwashing advocates. In 2022, thee focus therefore, is school
going children. However, provinces and municipalities may extend the scope based on own needs
and priority.

5. The theme for 2022 Global Handwashing Day campaign

The theme for 2022 is “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene”.
The Global handwashing partnership highlights that according to the latest WHO/UNICEF Joint
Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report, we must quadruple current rates of progress to achieve
the hygiene targets highlighted under Sustainable Development Goals 6. Leveraging the learnings
from recent years, the time to accelerate hand hygiene progress is now – and it requires a
collective effort to enact real change.

As the world moves beyond COVID-19 to our new normal, we must unite for universal hand
hygiene. This theme this year calls on:

Governments to promote national hand hygiene efforts, such as the development of a
costed hand hygiene roadmap, that consider a combination of policy, public financing,
capacity building, and innovation to accelerate hand hygiene;
Donors to ensure sustained hand hygiene financing by investing in programs that are
hygiene sensitive, promote behavior change, and lead to hand hygiene habits;
Businesses to support affordable, accessible, and desirable hand hygiene solutions to
ensure supplies are available for everyone, including their own workforce;
Institutions to prioritize hand hygiene infrastructure and policies within schools,
healthcare facilities, workplaces, and other institutional settings;
Researchers to conduct further research to fill in hand hygiene evidence gaps, with focus
on hand hygiene costs and return on investment as well as process evaluations for hand
hygiene interventions; and
Advocates to raise awareness on the importance of hand hygiene as an essential part of
health and development to influence political and community buy in.

6. Modalities

The following approaches may be utilized to re-emphasize the handwashing message:
 Children to be educated to learn and understand the importance of washing hands with
soap properly at critical times, in order to develop good hand hygiene habits.
 Children should also be encouraged to disseminate the handwashing message and support
improved hygiene behaviours within their families and wider communities.
 Use of information, education and communication mediums and visuals to communicate
the handwashing message.
 Inclusion of activities that will demonstrate the correct handwashing technique – showing
rather than doing.
 Inclusion of environmental cues in school environment e.g. visuals showing movement
from toilet to handwashing to classes.
 Teaching through songs.
 Use of radio, newspaper or television to communicate the message to the public.
 Demonstration on construction of a Tippy Tap.
 Educating Volunteer Food Handlers in the School Nutrition Programme on the importance
of washing hands with clean water and soap before preparing meals or serving children.

7. Key Advocacy and Action Messages

 Handwashing is key to reducing the burden of many diseases, which pose chronic
challenges to health and development.
 Handwashing plays a key role in the control of infectious-disease outbreaks.
 Handwashing is also important to achieve benefits beyond disease reduction, such as
increased school attendance and enhanced dignity. Advocates should raise awareness on
the importance of hand hygiene as an essential part of health and wellbeing.

8. Global Handwashing Day campaign at school level

Activities for the campaign in South Africa this year will adopt the following slogan “children – our
handwashing advocates – each one teach one”. As such, schools are encouraged to identify
learners who will be champions or Chief Education Officers (CEOs) of handwashing, who will be
tasked with teaching other learners about handwashing and lead activities on handwashing,
supported by educators.
Stakeholders undertaking the visits at targeted schools, will have to capacitate the chosen
champions/CEOs at these schools in order for them to educate other peers and members of the
The 2022 campaign key message is to wash hands with soap and running water, or alcohol-based
hand sanitizer where running water and soap are not readily available.
 after visiting the toilet;
 after touching rubbish;
 after touching frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles; and
 before and after you eat;

*The campaign will be implemented in all nine (9) provinces across the country, so that
handwashing with soap can receive the required attention in a standardised manner in the month
of October.
*Each District to target at least four (4) schools, targeting Grade 1 and 4 learners for the
handwashing training.
*At least two (2) champions/CEOs should be chosen per class.

9. Purpose of action

Hygiene promotion in schools and other settings will require strong coooperation and
collaboration amongst various roleplayers, including Health, Basic Education and the Private
sector. Environmental Health Practitioners, Health Promoters, School Nutrition Programmes,
educators and the School Governing Bodies (SGBs) will need to work together to realize the
objectives of the campaign in the short, medium and long term.

10. Resource Materials

Below are some examples of resource material that can be utilized for for Information, Education
and Communication, and can be also be accesed on various websites: