Guest post by Carolyn Moore, Global Handwashing Partnership
Handwashing with soap is an amazing tool to defeat diarrheal diseases, reduce newborn and child mortality, and much more. Hygiene advocacy helps to build the right enabling environment to make this life-saving behavior accessible to all. To support hygiene advocacy on global and national levels, the Global Handwashing Partnership is launching our new advocacy toolkit, Clean Hands for All.
Handwashing with soap prevents diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia, protects against healthcare-acquired infections, and supports progress in education, equity, and economic growth. However, only an estimated 19% of people wash their hands after contact with excreta, and in some countries fewer than 10% of households have a handwashing station with soap and water. New UNICEF figures showed that 7,000 newborns died every day in 2016. More than 20% of those deaths were caused by diarrhea, pneumonia, or sepsis, which could be prevented through handwashing with soap.
Many changes are needed to increase handwashing rates, including infrastructure, behavior change, financing, and policy. Advocacy allows people who seek an increase in handwashing behaviors to influence change on a large scale, beyond what we can directly control. For example, handwashing advocates are working to make sure that schools have appropriate handwashing facilities, that health strategies include behavior change strategies to encourage handwashing, and that investments in nutrition include a focus on the importance of hygiene.
Editor’s Note: Carolyn Moore is Director of the Global Handwashing Partnership, a WSSCC partner organization.
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Useful resources from the Global Handwashing Partnership and WSSCC are available here