WASH- survival necessity for COVID-19

Washing hands has been proved to be the most effective and powerful shield for humanity against the COVID-19 pandemic, which is ravaging lives and livelihoods globally.

During coronavirus pandemic, proper hand hygiene is an essential safety measure. According to reports, more than 3,00,000 children under the age of five died globally from diarrheal infections linked to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Washing hands has been proved to be the most effective and powerful shield for humanity against the COVID-19 pandemic, which is ravaging lives and livelihoods globally. It is also notable that the world could also save millions of lives by ensuring good hand washing practices.

In India, keeping water bodies clean and rejuvenating them could be one of the biggest challenges. As per the report, 3 billion people lack soap and water at home and in health centres globally. Without WASH services for frontline health workers, patients and communities, public health is impossible and global health security dangerously flawed.

Safe Water Network, an NGO working towards developing and catalyzing decentralized affordable, economically viable solutions to provide sustainable solution of safe water, under the support of USAID’s SEWAH – Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health project, organized a two week (1st-15th Oct) Global Hand Washing campaign at 14 Water Resource Knowledge Centers (WKRC) across 12 cities and reached out 42,000 people. These centres are serving as knowledge hubs, promoting public awareness, sensitizing them on water and sanitation, conservation, judicious use of water and amplifying good practices, especially during the pandemic to improve public health. All concerned are coming together — citizens, civic authorities, water supply officials, NGOs — to share their water-related grievances, discuss and act on solutions.

As per the experts, water, sanitation and hand hygiene, together with physical distancing, are central to preventing the spread of Covid-19, and the first line of defence against this serious threat to lives and health systems. According to UNICEF 91 million urban Indians lack basic handwashing facilities at home. Meanwhile, the National Sample Survey, 2019, reported that only 36 per cent of households in India washed their hands before eating and only 74 per cent cleaned their hands with soap after defecation. This creates a higher risk of illnesses and diseases spreading like diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis. Handwashing with soap is very important to mitigate coronavirus. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that handwashing infrastructure is available, safe and accessible along with the personal protective equipment and for that the need is to:

· Have a policy and regulatory framework to ensure consistent and sustainably safe and secure sanitation

· Promote collaborative and collective efforts to ensure sustainable implementation of the plans

· Involve multiple stakeholders, essential in rethinking and acting for improved WASH services

Hence, the organization is campaigning for urgent investment in clean water and hygiene services so that, the opportunity to drastically improve water and hygiene services in communities and healthcare facilities must not be missed. Also, we are calling for global leaders to ensure communities and healthcare facilities have these essentials, to protect people during this pandemic and build resilience to future global health crises. We are supporting businesses to put hygiene at the centre of a safe environment for supply chain workers.

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