October 15 is Global Handwashing Day (GHD), a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective way to prevent diseases and save lives.

This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme explores hand hygiene and triggering lasting change from the policy-level to community-driven action. Recent years have seen a rise in hand hygiene commitment and action. All individuals are now being encouraged to exert a broader effort to create an enabling environment that supports the scale up of hand hygiene to achieve global targets. These must be practiced at community settings: homes, schools, workplaces, and health care facilities. Everyone has a role to play to ensure clean hands are within reach. Through strong leadership and collective efforts, we can close gaps in access and practice to achieve hand hygiene for all.

Along with Global Handwashing Day, Food Safety Awareness Week is being celebrated every fourth week of October. This aims to increase awareness on the importance of ensuring safe and clean food we intake in our body. According to World Health Organization in 2015, almost 1 in 10 people become ill from eating contaminated food and this leads to 420,000 deaths yearly. About 125,000 children aged 5 and below dies from foodborne diseases every year. South-East Asia Region where the Philippines belong, has the second highest burden of foodborne diseases per population.

Food-borne diseases are preventable. Every individual must understand and learn how to properly handle food properly from production to consumption. This will enable us to have a safe, nutritious, and sufficient food in order to achieve a healthy and happy life.

Being one with these global advocacies, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Regional Office III headed by Regional Manager Engr. Josephine B. Salazar created a strong enabling environment for hand hygiene by providing an access to hand hygiene facilities and soaps for employees that are conveniently located and easy to utilize. Senior Industrial Nurse Robert John M. Bernardo led the employees in the hand hygiene practice while encouraging them to make this as part of their daily routine to prevent germs accumulation, viral infections, and flu. Through collective efforts, we can close gaps in both access and practice to achieve hand hygiene for everyone.