Published in: 2020
Three billion people – 40 per cent of the world’s population – do not have a place in their homes to wash their hands with water and soap. Threem quarters of those who lack access to water and soap live in the world’s poorest countries and are amongst the most vulnerable: children and families living in informal settlements, migrant and refugee camps, or in areas of active conflict. This puts an estimated 1 billion people at immediate risk of COVID-19 simply because they lack basic handwashing facilities.
Handwashing facilities are also lacking outside the home, including in workplaces where individuals spend up to one-third of their adult life, often in close proxmity to other workers as well as customers, increasing the risk for exposure to contagions.
Hand hygiene facilities are lacking even in places where they are most needed: nearly half of all schools do not have handwashing facilities with water and soap, affecting 900 million school-age children, as well as their teachers and other staff. Forty-three per cent of health care settings do not have hand hygiene facilities at points of care where patients are treated. With limited or no hand hygiene facilities and improvement programmes, health care workers’ compliance with hand hygiene best practices can be as low as 8 per cent. This puts teachers, doctors, nurses, patients – all of us – at risk.
WHO, UNICEF (2020). Hand Hygiene for All. WHO, UNICEF
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