A call to action to achieve universal hand hygiene

Young Asian girl washing her hands with adult.
Three-fourths of those who lack hand hygiene facilities live in the world’s poorest countries and are amongst the most vulnerable populations.

Hand hygiene is a cost-effective way to prevent the spread of disease and save lives. Yet, approximately 40% of the world’s population do not have a place to wash their hands with soap and water in their home.

Hand hygiene facilities are lacking even in places where they are needed most — nearly half of all schools lack facilities with water and soap and 43% of healthcare settings do not have hand hygiene facilities at points of care (JMP, 2020a; JMP, 2020b). This puts teachers, doctors, nurses, patients, new mothers – all of us – at risk.

818 million school-aged children do not have access to a hand hygiene facility in their school.
Hand hygiene compliance among health care workers is as low as 0%.

Smart investments now will prepare us better for any future disease outbreaks. Ensuring access to hand hygiene facilities and adopting strong hand hygiene improvement strategies is an effective intervention to prevent disease and death, including due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Despite its cost-effective and cross-cutting benefits, and some progress, hand hygiene has been neglected as a fundamental component of health and development.

This must change.

Featured Case Studies

See how others are inspiring hand hygiene for all around the world.

Handwashing on Wheels

This case study was pulled from the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub.

Wash’Em: Resources and tools to design handwashing promotion programmes for COVID-19 response

This case study was pulled from the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub.

WASH in HCF in Ethiopia and Kenya: Key findings and takeaways

This case study was pulled from the WASH in HCFs Knowledge Portal.