Global Handwashing Day 2008 (Oct. 15) will revolve around schools and children. On Global Handwashing Day, playgrounds, classrooms, community centers and the public spaces of towns and cities will be awash with activity to drive handwashing behavior change on a scale never seen before, bringing the critical issue center stage.

Global Handwashing Day will be the centerpiece of a week of activities that will mobilize millions of people in more than 20 countries across all five continents to wash their hands with soap.

Why Focus On Children?

Of the approximately 120 million children born in the developing world each year, half will live in households without access to improved sanitation, at grave risk to their survival and development. Poor hygiene and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88 percent of deaths from diarrheal diseases, accounting for 1.5 million diarrhea-related under-age-five deaths each year.

Children suffer disproportionately from diarrheal and respiratory diseases and deaths. But research shows that children - the segment of society so often the most energetic, enthusiastic and open to new ideas - can also be powerful agents of behavioral change.

The agencies leading the Global Handwashing Day ( efforts are part of the Global PPPHW and include (but are not limited to) the Water and Sanitation Program, UNICEF, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID through the Hygiene Improvement Project, Procter and Gamble and Unilever.