Globally, 4 out of 5 people do not wash hands after using the bathroom

on
20 March 2020
In
Employees and companies, Corporate engagement, Water, Toilets, Hygiene
Thumbnail WaterAid/Jordi Ruiz Cirera

**UPDATE** March 26, 2020

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As COVID-19 spreads, millions do not have access to soap and water for handwashing. We're scaling up our handwashing and hygiene work in more than 30 countries. Help us save lives.

March 20, 2020—We all know that washing our hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water is essential to control the spread of disease. As experts in helping people to change their hygiene habits – particularly with regard to handwashing – WaterAid is urgently scaling up our work to help limit the spread of Coronavirus.

Communities and governments are asking for our urgent help to stem the pandemic. But we need your support to deploy our expertise in handwashing to contain the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 and safeguard our global community.

WaterAid has launched the COVID-19 Emergency Hygiene Fund, a campaign to bring urgently needed handwashing facilities and educational messages to communities at risk. These efforts can mean the difference between life and death for vulnerable people around the world. Here's what we're doing so far:

  • We're putting in handwashing facilities in areas where people need them most, making it easier for them to keep their hands clean and protect themselves.
  • We're launching handwashing campaigns across all the countries where we work, making sure that everyone, wherever they live, knows when and how to wash their hands with soap.

Many of the countries in which WaterAid works have reported their first cases of the virus. Not only do these countries have painfully fragile health systems, but many people don't have anywhere to wash their hands – making it both alarmingly easy for the virus to spread and harder to treat.

The simple act of washing hands can save lives. Handwashing with soap has been found to cut school sick days in half. In turn, it contributes to child survival, good nutrition, school attendance and greater productivity.

Yet, only one in five people globally wash their hands after going to the toilet. 

An estimated 289,000 children under five die each year of diarrheal diseases directly caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and the inability to wash hands with soap. Another 151 million children around the world have had their growth and development stunted by undernutrition, in which chronic infection and intestinal worms are a major factor.

Handwashing: Fast facts

  • Hands are the principal carriers of disease-causing germs. 
  • Only 1 in 5 (19%) people globally wash their hands with soap after defecating
  • 1 in 3 primary schools worldwide does not have handwashing facilities
  • 443 million school days are lost every year because of water-related illnesses.
  • Handwashing with soap reduces the risk of diarrheal diseases by 42-47% 
  • Lack of access to sanitation and poor hygiene contribute to approximately 88% of childhood deaths caused by diarrheal diseases.

For more information, contact Emily Haile, Senior Media and Communications Manager at [email protected]