Geographies in Depth

How do we cut child death rates?

Magdalena Mis
Production Editor, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Geographies in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Africa is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Global Health and Healthcare

The failure of many people in many countries to wash their hands with soap – one of the cheapest and most effective health interventions – could hinder global development, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said.

More than 800 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by inadequate access to water or poor hygiene, the United Nations estimates.

“Along with drinking water and access to toilets, hygiene – particularly hand washing with soap – is an essential …(part) of (achieving) the (development) goal on water and sanitation,” Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, said in a statement.

In the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest child mortality rates, only about half the population wash their hands and even health clinics often lack hand-washing facilities, UNICEF said.

Some 42 percent of healthcare facilities in Africa have no water source within 500 metres, UNICEF said in a statement marking Global Handwashing Day.

“From birth – when unwashed hands of birth attendants can transmit dangerous pathogens – right through babyhood, school and beyond, hand washing is crucial for a child’s health. It is one of the cheapest, simplest, most effective health interventions we have,” Wijesekera said.

World leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations in September as a way of focusing on the world’s most troubling development problems, including access to water and sanitation.

UNICEF said that improvements in hygiene should supplement action to provide better access to water and sanitation, otherwise children would go on dying from easily preventable diseases.

This article is published in collaboration with Trust.org (Thomson Reuters Foundation). Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Magdalena Mis joined Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2011 and currently works as a production editor.

Image: A child receives a vaccination during an anti-polio campaign. REUTERS/ Parwiz.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Digital public infrastructure is transforming lives in Pakistan. Here's how 

Tariq Malik and Prerna Saxena

July 12, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum