Calls for action to save and improve lives

The situations where hygiene and health can save and improve lives are numerous, but so are the global challenges. In this chapter, we have chosen to focus on global hygiene and health issues where there is a lack of progress, but also where WSSCC and Essity have experience, knowledge and can share solutions. We can all contribute, drive change and accelerate action, but we especially ask policy makers to consider the following calls for action:

  • Put people first. The needs of the individual should always be at the center of public policy to secure the human right for basic hygiene and health for everyone. In healthcare, the needs of the individual must be reflected to empower both the receiver and giver of care.
  • Establish a prevention agenda. Every country should establish actions to improve hygiene, health and sanitation as a fundamental prevention agenda. Investment in preventive actions such as handwashing can reduce additional healthcare costs, improve productivity and save lives. Access to clean water, safe, clean and private hygiene and sanitation facilities, and essential sanitary products for all is key, supported by information and training.
  • Invest in hygiene and health. Prioritize and adequately fund hygiene and health policies – especially supporting people at different stages of life or those in vulnerable situations. These investments create shared value in terms of the individual, care provider and societal gains. Tenders should allow for innovation and digital solutions to enable technological evolution and optimize the use of resources. Supporting and funding research in these areas is also important to understand where the gaps or areas for improvement are. Research has found that, for example, a national handwashing behavioral change program would provide a 35-fold return on investment in China, and a 92-fold return in India.
  • Secure ownership. Often hygiene issues are everyone’s and yet nobody’s business. Clear ownership is needed, as well as accountability. Prioritization and appropriate financing are key to improve global hygiene. Ownership from policy makers is required to realize the true societal value.
  • Improve hygiene and health standards. Stakeholders at local, national and global level, should work together to establish and implement hygiene and health practices, guidelines and standards. These must be supported by education and training for users, caretakers etc. Innovation and digitalization within the sector provide disruptive opportunities for progress.