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The Global Handwashing Partnership

How a Swiss scale-up is taking up the fight against the spread of infectious disease worldwide

March 10, 2020

By: Emilie Barnasconi, Smixin

As part of its ongoing advocacy efforts, Smixin AG. a Swiss cleantech scale-up, is engaged in comprehensive research led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), UC Berkeley and the University of Cyprus. The preliminary results of the research can be found here. This research proves the strong impact that hand hygiene behavior among the airport population can have on the diffusion of infectious and bacterial diseases worldwide. Through this study, 10 airports were identified in playing a key role with regard to the spread of global disease. When handwashing engagement increases at these airports alone, the impact of disease spreading worldwide would decrease up to 37%. Ongoing research by the team demonstrates that handwashing with soap whilst air travelling can reduce the risk of a pandemic outbreak by up to 65%.

This study is the first time academic researchers have investigated the direct link between the outbreak of a pandemic and handwashing behavior of airport populations. “We observed that by increasing the handwashing frequency of the airport population, the spreading power of infectious disease worldwide reduces significantly”, says Dr. Christos Nicolaides, coordinator of the study from University of Cyprus and MIT. With that, is it now possible to define a target handwashing ratio for airports to limit the spread of disease worldwide.

The fact that people do not wash their hands with water and soap costs tens of thousands of lives per year. While handwashing is a cornerstone of public health, actual rates of proper handwashing around the world are quite low and vary widely: on average, handwashing with soap is only practiced 19% of the time after contact with feces. At Smixin, we are constantly working towards smart solutions that make handwashing accessible for everyone, everywhere. Building on the clear preliminary results of this research, we will continue to engage authorities and airports to create more opportunities to wash your hands at airports.”

Smixin is affiliated with the Global Handwashing Partnership, alongside partners like Procter & Gamble, the World Bank and Unilever. Also, Smixin is donating 10.000 liters of fresh drinking water per handwashing system they install in the field via Made Blue. Smixin, dedicated to reinvent the handwashing process completely, is proud to be joining these renowned companies in their efforts to increase awareness for handwashing.

For media inquiries and visuals of Smixin, please contact Emilie Barnasconi, Smixin AG,

For in depth questions about the research, please contact Christos Nicolaides, Unieversity of Cyprus,

Photos curtesy of Smixin AG. 

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