The United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization published a report on Friday highlighting the need for universal access to hand hygiene. Forty percent of the world’s people do not have a place to wash their hands at home, which puts an estimated 1 billion people at a greater risk for contracting Covid-19.
The Hand Hygiene for All report calls for responding, rebuilding, and reimagining water, sanitation, and hygiene access around the world. Options for responding include changes in infrastructure, new investment models, and targeted political leadership and strategies. Increased hygiene access is especially important now as many healthcare facilities, schools, and public places lack proper handwashing stations, a hygienic deficit that leaves disadvantaged populations vulnerable to the new coronavirus. It is not just improving access to water supply, but finding solutions that fit every context.
While universal access to soap and water is already included in the U.N. Sustainable Development Agenda, the report notes that the pandemic provides an important opportunity, via hygiene, to save lives now and into the future.