What have we learned about promoting hand hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Thumbnail of learning brief on COVID-19 and hygiene

This brief is focused on hand hygiene. We have long understood the importance of hand hygiene for the reduction of diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory infections, hospital-acquired infections, and during outbreaks like cholera and Ebola. Hand washing with soap or alcohol-based hand rub is an effective COVID-19 prevention measure, along with physical distancing and appropriate mask use. Despite the many benefits of hand hygiene, actual practice remains low globally.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already led to short-term improvements in hygiene behaviour but it is now critical to translate these improvements into longer-term handwashing habits and policy change so that the immediate threat of COVID-19 is addressed and progress can be made to reduce the burden of other faecal-oral diseases.


About the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub

The COVID-19 Hygiene Hub is a free service to help actors in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) share, design, and adapt evidence-based hygiene interventions to combat COVID-19. Since starting in April 2020, the Hygiene Hub has provided rapid technical advice and project support to more than 132 different organisations across 60 countries and developed over 40 long-term partnerships to support global or national-level initiatives. Over 250 projects from 70 countries have been shared on our interactive map, along with 20 in-depth programme case studies that document the successes and challenges of COVID-19 response actions. The global nature of our work puts us in a unique position to understand common challenges and identify innovative solutions to strengthen longer-term hygiene promotion.


This brief was written by Sian White (LSHTM) who coordinates the Response Team within the Hygiene Hub. Valuable inputs were provided by Robert Dreibelbis (LSHTM), Peter Winch (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), Katie Greenland (LSHTM), Claire Collin (LSHTM), Yolisa Nalule (LSHTM), Jenala Chipungu (Centre for Infectious Disease Research, Zambia), Joanna Esteves Mills (Hygiene for All initiative, UNICEF), Bruce Gordon (WHO), Kondwani Chidziwisano (University of Malawi / WASHTED), Foyeke Tolani (Oxfam), Astrid Hasund Thorseth (LSHTM), Ana Hoepfner (CAWST), Alexandra Czerniewska (LSHTM), and Sarah Bick (LSHTM).




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