Executive Summary

For centuries society has seen that good hygiene and health saves and improves lives. Research and innovation continue to advance knowledge and approaches, but the importance of basic hygiene and health practices and the need for more inclusive societies remains fundamental. This has been even more evident during the pandemic caused by a coronavirus, which causes an infectious disease (COVID-19).

This report is a collaboration between Essity and the UN-hosted Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). It aims to bring much needed insights, evidence and solutions to the societal and political debate, in order to accelerate action on improving hygiene and health standards and practices around the world. A central part of the insights builds on a biannual global survey, conducted by Essity – the Essentials Initiative Survey.

Putting insights into action

In the first theme, Hygiene and health saves and improves lives, findings and cases underline the importance of basic hygiene and good health for all, particularly to avoid infections such as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19.

In the second theme, More inclusive societies, research and testimonials highlight how important it is to break barriers on social norms surrounding menstruation and incontinence. It also stresses the importance of a person-centered approach and underlines the opportunities that innovation and digitalization brings, in order to ensure that large groups of people can participate fully in society.

Since it is vital to put insight into action, Essity and WSSCC also provide policy makers with a set of Calls for actions on how hygiene and health can save and improve lives and Calls for action on more inclusive societies to help overcome the hygiene and health challenges and build on the opportunities addressed in the report.

Members of the Global Menstrual Collective (photo)

Members of the Global Menstrual Collective advocating investments in menstrual health and hygiene at the International Conference on development and Population in 2019, Nairobi, Kenya. Read more