The Problem of Diarrheal Disease
- in Africa, 1 in 5 children under the age of 5 die from diarrheal diesease (Black et al., 2010).
- Every year, diarrheal disease kills an estimated 1.5 million children globally (WHO and UNICEF, 2009).
- Inadequate sanitation, limited access to clean water, and poor hygiene practices are responsible for 88% of diarrheal cases (African Population and Health Research Centre, 2002)
Why Focus on Handwashing?
With no sinks or running water, and because soap is a precious commodity, handwashing is often an overlooked activity. However, a large body of research clearly documents that simple hygiene interventions, such as promoting handwashing with soap, are the most simple, cost-effective and successful approaches to prevent diarrhea (WHO, 2008). Handwashing with soap can result in decreasing diarrheal rates by as much as 40% (Freeman et al., 2014). USAID (2009) recommends five important times to wash hands to prevent diarrhea in resource-poor settings:
- After using the toilet
- Before eating
- Before cooking
- After changing diapers
- Before feeding a baby
Focusing on Handwashing with soap directly addresses the World Health Organization’s 2015 Millennium Development Goal 4, Target 5, which seeks to “reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate”