Simply washing your hands with soap and warm water is "one of the most critical control strategies in outbreak management."

Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic

Download this file

  • Audience versions of this page: Family

    On October 15, 2008, the world first celebrated Global Handwashing Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Good hand hygiene is one of the most critical control strategies in outbreak management.” 
     
    Handwashing can reduce outbreaks of dysentery and pneumonia, the two most common causes of child mortality around the world. Handwashing can also reduce the spread of the cold, flu, and illnesses caused by exposure to harmful chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and dirt.
     
    One of the most effective ways to promote good “hand hygiene” is the tippy tap. The tippy tap is a simple, affordable, and ingenious way to reach communities in the developing world who live in rural areas where there is limited running water.
     
    The tippy tap is a device that uses inexpensive and widely available materials (such as sticks or poles), a jug of water, and soap. It is easily constructed and operated by a foot lever, which reduces the chances of transmitting bacteria on the device. Communities in India, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Laos, South Sudan, Ecuador, and Haiti have established tippy taps to promote good hand hygiene and reduce deadly disease outbreaks.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    affordable Adjective

    reasonably priced, not expensive.

    available Adjective

    ready for use.

    bacteria Plural Noun

    (singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.

    celebrate Verb

    to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.

    chemical Noun

    molecular properties of a substance.

    child mortality Noun

    death of children under the age of five.

    construct Verb

    to build or erect.

    contact lens Noun

    small plastic disk that fits over the cornea (eyeball) to correct vision.

    developing world Noun

    nations with low per-capita income, little infrastructure, and a small middle class.

    device Noun

    tool or piece of machinery.

    diarrhea Noun

    frequent bowel movements.

    dirt Noun

    dry earth or soil.

    disease Noun

    a harmful condition of a body part or organ.

    dysentery Noun

    possibly fatal disease with severe, bloody diarrhea.

    effective Adjective

    useful or able to perform a task.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    garbage Noun

    trash or waste material.

    germ Noun

    disease-producing microbe.

    harmful Adjective

    damaging.

    hygiene Noun

    science and methods of keeping clean and healthy.

    inexpensive Adjective

    not costing a lot of money.

    ingenious Adjective

    very clever or smart.

    injury Noun

    harm or damage.

    lever Noun

    bar that pivots on a fixed support, or fulcrum, and is most often used to move an object at a second point by a force applied to a third point.

    operate Verb

    to control or manage.

    outbreak Noun

    sudden occurrence or rapid increase.

    pneumonia Noun

    infection where lungs fill with fluid.

    promote Verb

    to encourage or help.

    rash Noun

    irritating skin eruption.

    reduce Verb

    to lower or lessen.

    rural area Noun

    regions with low population density and large amounts of undeveloped land. Also called "the country."

    Encyclopedic Entry: rural area
    tippy tap Noun

    device using a jug of water, soap, and simple construction materials to provide a hands-free way to wash your hands.

    transmit Verb

    to pass along information or communicate.

    virus Noun

    pathogenic agent that lives and multiplies in a living cell.