Putting hygiene on the agenda
A lack of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene results not only in loss of dignity, safety, health, and education, but also economic potential. It is at the heart of “human capital,” not only for the current working generation, but for generations to come.
However, the subject of hygiene has never been near the top of the political agenda, something that needs to change. More global efforts are needed to link hygiene with policy-influencing outcomes and establish return on investment (ROI) to drive policy change. While it is evident that progress is being made on an international basis, more still needs to be done.
This was the conclusion from the RGHI and Chatham House round table Driving hygiene behaviors – essential elements of universal healthcare?
The group had been invited to discuss a variety of fundamental topics in this forum. The discussion took place under the Chatham House Rule. Participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
The panel of experts, which included politicians, policymakers, academics, physicians, behavior change experts, and others representing international charities and Ministries of Health concluded that investments are needed beyond research. Firstly, to build workable, scalable hygiene interventions, and secondly to build ‘customer demand’ from communities that will put pressure on governments to supply hygiene infrastructure.
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Expanding access to hygiene
“Global community leaders have work ahead of them to expand access to good hygiene. The UN has set access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene as a sustainable development goal, but sound sanitation services reached little more than half the world’s population as of 2020. While hygiene has long been seen as beneficial to health, it now needs to be understood as a connected part of the basic requirements in building national health systems.”