Already a crucial date on the health and wellbeing calendar in the Oceania region, Global Handwashing Day’s importance has been further underlined by the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As much of the region continues to grapple with the pandemic, handwashing remains one of the most effective ways to remove germs and stop the transmission of disease.  

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), along with Member Associations Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga, will mark Global Handwashing Day on October 15 with awareness campaigns and festivals in the lead up to, on the day and post event.  

The efforts reinforce OFC’s commitment to ensuring education around the importance of good hygiene is integrated throughout football and that healthy behaviours are encouraged at all levels of participation. 

Last year the Just Play programme in Fiji delivered a health and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) tour which reached over 5,000 children. 

OFC Head of Social Responsibility Michael Armstrong spoke of the importance of the messages delivered through Global Handwashing Day.  

“Handwashing is key to reducing the burden of many diseases which pose chronic challenges to population health and development,” Armstrong said.  

“The past year has shown the importance of personal hygiene to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. 

“OFC is working with our partners to promote handwashing and good hygiene to stop the spread of all germs and bacteria. This promotes healthy individuals and communities and supports safe participation in football. 

“The Just Play Programme engages children and teaches them the important steps and times for handwashing, to support healthy development and share this important message.  

“We are especially grateful for support from the New Zealand Government, Australian Government and UEFA Foundation for Children on this issue.”  

For children under five, water and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death across the Pacific, while one third of children in the region don’t have access to good sanitation  

Regular handwashing with soap can reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection by 36.3 percent.