The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, has stated that washing hands is essential for child health on a global scale, and a lack of access to clean water and proper hygiene could hinder global development.
“Along with drinking water and access to toilets, hygiene – particularly hand washing with soap – is an essential …(part) of (achieving) the (development) goal on water and sanitation,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
Sub Saharan Africa is the region with the highest child mortality rates. Approximately half the population wash their hands, and hand washing facilities are often missing from health clinics, according to UNICEF. Approximately 42 percent of African healthcare facilities do not have a water source within 500 meters.
“From birth – when unwashed hands of birth attendants can transmit dangerous pathogens – right through babyhood, school and beyond, hand washing is crucial for a child’s health. It is one of the cheapest, simplest, most effective health interventions we have,” Wijesekera said.