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  • The WHO and UNICEF launched the initiative Hand Hygiene for All,

    The WHO and UNICEF launched the initiative Hand Hygiene for All, "to support the most vulnerable communities with the means to protect their health and environment." | Photo: EFE/EPA Mohammed Saber

Published 13 August 2020
Opinion

In the 60 countries with the worst health and humanitarian crisis, 3 in 4 children lacked basic handwashing service at their school at the start of the outbreak and half of them lacked basic water service.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation's Children Fund (UNICEF) warned on Thursday that over 800 million children worldwide lack handwashing facilities at school as some countries will resume lessons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to a joint report by the organizations in 2019 alone, almost 43 percent of schools around the world lacked access to basic handwashing with soap and water.

Moreover, 818 million children don't have access to basic handwashing, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 295 million minors can't wash their hands at school.

"Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services are essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools," WHO General-Director Tedros Adhanom said.

"It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic," the official added.

Furthermore, the organizations warned that in the 60 countries with the worst health and humanitarian crisis, 3 in 4 children lacked basic handwashing service at their school at the start of the outbreak, and half of them lacked basic water service.

On the other hand, 1 in 3 schools worldwide had either limited drinking water service or no drinking water service at all, while 698 million children lacked basic sanitation service at their school.

As several countries prepare to resume the academic year in September, the WHO and UNICEF launched the initiative Hand Hygiene for All, "to support the most vulnerable communities with the means to protect their health and environment."

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