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Three billion people globally do not have hand washing equipment at home: UNICEF |

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According to new estimates from UNICEF, 40 percent of the world’s population or 3 billion people do not have a hand soap and water facility at home. The number is much higher in less developed countries, where nearly three-quarters of the population do not have such equipment.

Kelly Ann Naylor, Joint Director of Water, Sewerage and Hygiene at UNICEF, said it is unacceptable that the most vulnerable communities are unable to use the simplest methods to protect themselves and their loved ones.

The pandemic has highlighted the critical role of hand hygiene in disease prevention. She has also highlighted a pre-existing problem for many: Washing hands with soap remains out of reach for millions of children where they are born, live and learn.

We need to take immediate action to make hand washing soap accessible to everyone, everywhere now and in the future, she demanded.

The situation is also alarming in schools: 43 percent of schools globally (70 percent in less developed countries) do not have a soap and water wash facility, affecting hundreds of millions of school-age children, according to estimates.

See also: Everything you need to know about hand washing to protect yourself from coronavirus

Hand Hygiene for All

Against this background, UNICEF, together with the UN World Health Organization started Hand Hygiene for All initiative to support the development of national guidelines to accelerate and support progress towards making hand hygiene a key pillar in public health interventions.

This means rapidly improving access to hand washing equipment, water, soap and hand cleaners in all settings, as well as promoting behavior change interventions for optimal hand hygiene practices, UNICEF said.

The initiative brings together international, national and local partners to ensure that affordable products and services are available and sustainable, especially in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

The ratings were released on Thursday, coinciding with Global Handwashing Day, which serves as a platform to raise awareness of the importance of hand washing with soap.

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