The proper way to wash hands is to start by wetting them. Then thoroughly lather with soap covering every part of the hands, rinse with clean water, and then dry with a clean towel.
It is a simple task, but one of the most effective ways to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea-related diseases such as typhoid and cholera that kill more than 3.5 million children under the age of 5 every year around the world, according to Unicef.
To help spread the word about stopping the spread of disease, Unicef created the annual Global Hand Washing Day in 2008.
The French Red Cross and the National Pediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh teamed up to celebrate the day on Thursday by presenting an afternoon filled with skits, music and games for the hospital’s wards.
Hand washing “is not really integrated into daily life, especially the use of soap,” Kleio Iakovidou, Red Cross project coordinator, said at the event.
“But it’s not only in developing countries that needs to promote hand washing, it’s around the world,” she said.
Global Hand Washing Day is aimed at children because it is important to instill good hygiene habits at a young age so they can carry the habits with them throughout their lives, Ms Iakovidou added.
Children who attended the event were treated to a comedy skit and puppet show that used humor to teach them correct toilet hygiene and the consequences of handling food without proper hand washing. There were games too, and hands-on activities such as creating art with messy clay then washing hands using the right technique. Guests at the event went home with a bar of soap.
French Red Cross Chief of Mission Christophe Christin attended the event after spending a week spreading the same message in Kompong Cham province to 2,000 school children and another 1,000 villagers.
He said the awareness campaign was about prevention, which is much more effective then medical care after illness.
“It’s a simple thing. That is why we are focused on it,” he said of washing hands. “It’s very simple but very effective.”