It's thought that more than three million children under five years old will die from infectious diseases next year across the world. And many of these are entirely preventable. So a new report from the Global Hygiene Council (GHC) is highlighting five simple steps everyone can take to improve hygiene practices.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization nearly a million under fives die from pneumonia every year and more than 700,000 children as a result of diarrhoea.
“It is unacceptable that largely preventable infections such as diarrhoea are still one of the biggest killers of children globally,” says Professor John Oxford, an infectious diseases expert from the UK and Chair of the GHC. “Handwashing with soap has been shown to reduce diarrhoeal deaths by 50% and by developing this 5-step plan, we want to deliver a clear and consistent message about how small changes in hygiene practices could have a big impact on the health and well-being of children around the world.”
Called "Small Steps for Big Change" the five-step plan has been produced by experts spanning paediatricians, infectious disease specialists, and public health experts from the UK, France, the USA, Nigeria, and South Africa.
“Poor personal hygiene and home hygiene practices are widely recognised as the main causes of infection transmission for colds, influenza and diarrhoea,” says Professor Oxford. “Families, communities and healthcare professionals need to acknowledge that improved hygiene is effectively a first line of defence and that adopting better hygiene practices could have a dramatic and positive impact on the lives of young children worldwide.”
The plan involves not only encouraging frequent hand washing but also protecting babies during their first few weeks of life before vaccinations. Along with keeping kitchen surfaces clean to avoid food poisoning and hygienically cleaning frequently touched surfaces to stop the spread of cold and flu viruses.
To learn more visit the Global Hygiene Council's website.