Handwashing with soap is vital in the fight against infectious diseases, including COVID-19, however, millions of children have no ready access to a place to wash their hands with soap, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today.
The UNICEF said on Global Handwashing Day that the pandemic has highlighted the critical role of hand hygiene in disease prevention.
“It has also stressed a preexisting problem for many: Handwashing with soap remains out of reach for millions of children where they’re born, live, and learn,” UNICEF Associate Director of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Kelly Ann Naylor said in a statement.
“It’s unacceptable that the most vulnerable communities are unable to use the simplest of methods to protect themselves and their loved ones,” she added.
According to UNICEF, 40 percent of the world’s population or three billion people do not have a handwashing facility with water and soap at home.
Meanwhile, 43 percent of schools lacked a handwashing facility with water and soap affecting 818 million school age children, it added.
The agency has called for an immediate action to make handwashing with soap accessible to the public.
“We must take immediate action to make handwashing with soap accessible to everyone, everywhere – now and in the future,” it said.
Recently, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the “Hand Hygiene for All” an initiative to support the development of national roadmaps to accelerate and sustain progress towards making hand hygiene a mainstay in public health interventions.
“This means rapidly improving access to handwashing facilities, water, soap and hand sanitizer in all settings, as well as promoting behavioral change interventions for optimal hand hygiene practices,” the UNICEF said.