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Hand Hygiene

What the Experts Say: Coronavirus & Children
(Past event)

Event type: Webinar

events2 July 2020time15:00 - 16:30




On Thursday 2 July at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti will present its fifth Leading Minds Online webcast ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children' on Hand Hygiene. 

Irrefutable evidence shows that hand hygiene – one of the simplest and cheapest actions against infections – can make one the biggest differences in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Down through the ages poor hygiene has contributed to the spread of pandemics and to numerous preventable deaths. Yet it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that health professionals in North America and Europe began washing their hands before examining patients – and once they did it dramatically cut mortality rate of the mothers in childbirth and patients in general. In recent decades, the global health community has made strong strides in fostering good hygiene, vastly increasing access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities, and promoting best practices.

Yet despite these gains and overwhelming proof of the benefits of hand hygiene, 40 per cent of the world’s population still do not have a place to wash their hands with soap and water, and 3 out of 4 people lack basic handwashing facilities at home. In the 60 countries with the least access, 2 out of 3 people – 1 billion in total – lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home. Only about half world’s population wash their hands after using the bathroom, with a significant difference between the sexes: only one third of males do, compared with  two thirds of females.

The humble habit of handwashing is key to addressing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the crisis, handwashing was heavily promoted as way of stopping or slowing the spread of the virus.

But as more and more countries ease lockdown restrictions, populations begin moving around, and children start going back to school and out to play, the risk of slipping out of good practices like washing hands rises, even in though countries with ample access to quality hygiene facilities. For those countries where access to hygiene facilities remains limited, there is an urgent need to expand access and promote use, and to explore innovative solutions to enable marginalized populations to practice hand hygiene where clean water remains in short supply.

This is among the greatest challenges in global public health. But it also represents an opportunity to truly revolutionize hygiene in homes and communities, markets and mosques, bars and buses, classrooms and church halls? What will it take for businesses, governments, schools, and ordinary people to start and keep up good habits as if the lives depend on it – in many cases, they actually do.

On Thursday 2 July at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti will present the fifth episode of its Leading Minds Online webcast ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children: Hygiene”. A panel of high-level experts will look at what history has taught us about health and hygiene, and what actions and investments are urgently required to change the future of health forever. A selection of audience questions will be asked and answered during the webcast, which will go live on UNICEF Innocenti website and on to YouTube, Facebook. The webcast recording and summary will be available shortly afterward.

Confirmed panelists:
  1. Robert Dreiblebis
  2. Erin McCusker
  3. Param Iyer
  4. Kelly Ann Naylor
  5. Naoko Yamamoto

With special message from Sachin Tendulkar, Regional Ambassador for UNICEF South Asia and international cricketer 


Parameswaran Iyer
Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, India
Naoko Yamamoto
Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems
Erin McCusker
Global Head of SATO Tap, LIXIL
Robert Dreibelbis
Associate Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Kelly-Ann Naylor
Associate Director, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section, UNICEF
Sachin Tendulkar
Special Message from the Regional Ambassador for UNICEF South Asia


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