Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and their communities through handwashing with soap. It requires few resources—just soap and a small amount of water—yet the benefits are huge.
When handwashing with soap is practiced regularly at key times, such as after using the toilet or before contact with food, it can dramatically reduce the risk of diarrhea and pneumonia, which can cause serious illness and death. Handwashing with soap also helps prevent the spread of other infections such as influenza and Ebola.
Cost is not the principal barrier to handwashing with soap. Almost everyone in the world can afford multipurpose bar soap, or detergent to make soapy water, though recent surveys have found a soap access equity gap, meaning the world’s poorest households are less likely to have access to soap. Furthermore households which do have access to soap commonly use it for laundry, dishwashing or bathing, rather than for handwashing. Investments in handwashing promotion are very cost effective, and can also maximize the health benefits of other interventions from access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure to nutrition promotion.
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© 2017 The Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP).