Children’s Learning Worldwide Is a Priority But 818 Million Students Lack Basic Hand Washing

IBL News | New York

Access to handwashing stations and safe toilets that are clean and disinfected are key requirements for a safe reopening children’s schools worldwide –United Nations officials told IBL News.

There are 1.6 billion students in 190 countries. According to UN data, roughly 43%, that is, 818 million lack access to basic handwashing facilities at school, with soap and water. A third of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The COVID-19 virus pandemic has created the largest disruption to education ever recorded. And the lack of hand hygiene and clean water in half of the student population dramatically aggravates the crisis.

“Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services are essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, General Manager at the World Health Organization, this week. “It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”

A report built on reopening guidelines published on Thursday 13th by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, encouraged governments to seek control of coronavirus spread by balancing the need for implementing public health measures against the social and economic impacts of lockdown measures. There is substantial evidence of the negative impacts of prolonged school closures on children.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director at UNICEF, stated, “We must prioritize children’s learning, making sure that schools are safe to reopen.”

Resource: 2 in 5 schools around the world lacked basic handwashing facilities prior to COVID-19 pandemic