Maryam, 9, is washing her hands at Balkh pronice of Afghanistan. Credit: UNICEF Afghanistan provide basic handwashing facilities for Internally displaced children at Ferdousi camp in Nahri Shahi district of Balkh province of Afghansitan. In 2019, with partners and through funding from the European Union, UNICEF Afghanistan supported a total of 38,649 children (18,292 girls, 20,357 boys) in the most at risk areas and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements across Afghanistan. These children benefited from psychoscial support services, and essential social services in 234 Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) in the targeted communities over 4 regions in 15 provinces, bringing the total for the programme to 56,641 children.
Maryam, 9, is washing her hands at Balkh pronice of Afghanistan. Credit: Unicef

Water and soap, unattainable luxury

Washing hands, along with maintaining a safe distance and sneezing and coughing into a handkerchief or sleeve, is the most effective measure against the spread of the new coronavirus.

But for millions of children around the world, water and soap are unattainable luxuries, warns UNICEF ​​on World Handwashing Day.

If we wash our hands thoroughly with soap, we protect ourselves from many infectious diseases, not just covid-19. Simple, right? Unfortunately, no. We, who have clean running water available at every turn, find it hard to understand that millions of people around the world do not have the opportunity to wash their hands.

»The coronavirus pandemic has once again highlighted the key role of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of the disease. At the same time, it highlighted a global challenge – washing hands with soap remains out of reach for millions of children around the world, at home, at school, on the go,« said Kelly Ann Naylor, Deputy Head of UNICEF’s Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Programs.

»It is unacceptable that the most vulnerable communities cannot use the simplest and at the same time most effective measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from disease. Immediate action is needed to enable everyone to wash their hands with soap.«

Hand washing is not only the first defence against the new coronavirus, but also against pneumonia, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, typhus, hepatitis A and many other dangerous diseases.

Only three out of five people in the world have the option to wash their hands. This means that as many as three billion people on Earth do not have the conditions to wash their hands with soap and water at home.

Almost 75 percent of the population of the least developed countries do not have the basic conditions for washing their hands at home. Nearlt half of the schools in the world do not have adequate facilities for washing hands with soap and water.

Points to Consider

  1. How do you clean your hands without soap and water?
  2. Why are some people more vulnerable to infections with novel coronavirus?
  3. Do you know that a lot of people do not have access to a toilette?


*The original version of this article was published on October 15th.

English translation courtesy of JL FlannerTotal Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.



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