Coronavirus (921) Improving handwashing habits in Africa

20 August, 2020

Below are the first and last paragraphs of a Comment in The Lancet Global Health. The author expects improved handwashing - and its many health benefits - as a legacy of COVID-19.

CITATION: Comment| volume 8, issue 9, e1110-e1111, september 01, 2020

Improving handwashing habits and household air quality in Africa after COVID-19

Adeladza K Amegah

Published: September, 2020 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30353-3

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(20)30353-3/fulltext?dgcid=raven_jbs_etoc_email

'Handwashing with soap under running water is a key intervention for preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, in Africa, before the COVID-19 pandemic, this simple and effective intervention for preventing sanitation-related diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, and soil-transmitted helminth infections was not practised by many people, especially in communities in rural areas and low-income urban settlements. Only 15% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa have access to basic handwashing facilities with soap and water. In urban areas, less than a quarter (24%) of the population have access to handwashing facilities. Prevalence of handwashing in sub-Saharan Africa after exposure to excreta has been estimated at 14%...

'In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic will leave a legacy of improved handwashing habits in many African communities and provide many compelling reasons to address household air pollution. Governments should find the fiscal space to sustain the gains in handwashing practices and to invest in clean cooking solutions that help reduce diseases associated with poor sanitation and household air pollution, which will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 7.'

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org