Proper hand washing essential to cut high child death rate – UNICEF – Reuters


LONDON, Oct 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The failure of
many people in many countries to wash their hands with soap –
one of the cheapest and most effective health interventions –
could hinder global development, the United Nations children’s
agency (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

More than 800 children die every day from diarrhoea caused
by inadequate access to water or poor hygiene, the United
Nations estimates.

“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,”
Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and
hygiene programmes, said in a statement.

In the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the
region with the highest child mortality rates, only about half
the population wash their hands and even health clinics often
lack hand-washing facilities, UNICEF said.

Some 42 percent of healthcare facilities in Africa have no
water source within 500 metres, UNICEF said in a statement
marking Global Handwashing Day.

“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.

World leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) at the United Nations in September as a way of focusing
on the world’s most troubling development problems, including
access to water and sanitation.

UNICEF said that improvements in hygiene should supplement
action to provide better access to water and sanitation,
otherwise children would go on dying from easily preventable
diseases.

(Reporting by Magdalena Mis, editing by Tim Pearce.Please
credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson
Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights,
corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)