Home NewsGlobal WHO and UNICEF launch hand hygiene for all global initiative to combat COVID-19

WHO and UNICEF launch hand hygiene for all global initiative to combat COVID-19

The World Health Organisation (WHO)  and UNICEF, the  United Nations Children’s Fund, have launched the Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative which aims to implement WHO’s global recommendations on hand hygiene to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic and work to ensure lasting infrastructure and behavior.

Three billion people – 40 per cent of the world’s population – currently do not have a place in their homes to wash their hands with water and soap. Three 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.

The WHO and UNICEF-led initiative is calling for countries to lay out comprehensive roadmaps that bridge together national COVID-19 preparedness and response plans with mid- and long-term national development plans to ensure hand hygiene is a mainstay beyond the pandemic, as part of infection prevention and control (IPC) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) efforts.

It also proposes a framework for coordination and collaboration among global and regional partners, with the primary aim of supporting and growing country-led efforts and investments.

The Global Initiative is designed around three stages:

  • Responding to the immediate pandemic
  • Rebuilding infrastructure and services
  •  Reimagining hand hygiene in society

The Global Initiative is working with a number of partners to further progress in specific settings, such as health care facilities (including primary and long-term settings), schools and child-care centres, workplaces, transport hubs, households, institutions and places of worship. In health care, it builds upon and supports existing programmes such as the WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign and the WASH in health care facilities initiatives.

Each stage of the Initiative has four core dimensions:

  • securing political leadership to embed a culture of hand hygiene
  • strengthening the institutional and policy environment to drive progress
  • ensuring the availability of hand hygiene stations, alcohol-based hand rubs and soap and water where they are needed
  • drawing on evidence-based behaviour change approaches to encourage sustained hand hygiene practices.

Click here to download the Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative launch paper

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