Hand hygiene—moving from a “should” to a “must”
Good hand washing habits have always been connected to good health, but the practice is even more important now to prevent COVID-19.
For people with very low incomes who have no choice but to leave home in order to work and buy food daily, hand washing is their first line of defense against contracting the disease. iDE is expanding where and how we promote hand hygiene, because lives are at stake.
The first line of defense
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses is hand washing. But in the world’s poorest countries, doing so isn’t easy. People need access to water, soap, and a method by which they can mix these two and scrub their hands without contaminating their living space.
iDE began promoting hand hygiene over two decades ago as part of our global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) initiative because we saw that it was difficult for someone to operate their business if they got sick or if they had to care for family members who were ill. The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the urgency of hand washing. Since most of these entrepreneurs and farmers are connected to the food supply for thousands of communities, getting ill with COVID-19 would not only be a personal disaster, but could contribute to a hunger crisis that’s already developing.
Hand Washing Gallery
Forming life-saving habits
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the practice of washing one’s hands from a “should” to a “must.” For rural, low-income families who live day-to-day, this is exceedingly difficult. At iDE, we’re applying the lessons we’ve learned in promoting hand hygiene and studying behavior change to make hand washing a common practice in homes around the world. This work has become more important than ever.
The pandemic has highlighted the linkages between sanitation conditions, hygiene behaviors such as handwashing, and health outcomes. For people who must work outside the home in order to eat, their risk of COVID-19 exposure is high. This health crisis will lead to a hunger crisis unless we ensure working people have the necessary information and supplies to avoid illness, allowing them to earn an income and put food on the table.