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Using soap for hand-washing. Pixabay
  • Initiating in 2009, both the surveys started including questions that queried the members of the household about their hand-washing habit
  • Hand-washing with soap prevents the spread of multiple diseases, especially diarrhoea and pneumonia
  • According to the reports, the researchers have suggested a number of potential solutions, including the idea of increasing the availability of soapy water which will promote its use as a less expensive but an affordable substitute

Washington DC, July 04, 2017: Most of the families in the countries with low-income, do not have soaps in their homes; a recent study has revealed.

ANI has reported that the study was conducted by Buffalo University, where the researchers with UNICEF, USAID, and others, suggest that the behavior of hand-washing has to be improved substantially in middle and low-income countries.


Pavani Ram, Swapna Kumar, and their colleagues have identified the proportion of households where water and soap was present at a hand-washing place in the house, using survey data collected from 51 nationally representative surveys. The percentages that they have noted range from less than 0.1 percent in Ethiopia to 96.4 percent in Serbia.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh Government Responds to UNICEF Report on Infant Mortality

According to the reports, Kumar stated that the findings underscore the necessity to improve access to soap and proper cleaning, along with hand-washing behavior in general, in many impoverished countries.

Co-author Ram was quoted as saying, “Hand-washing prevents leading causes of the 6 million deaths that occur annually in young children around the world. Never before has hand-washing been systematically measured in so many countries. These data are useful to public health programs and policy makers because they underscore the deep inequities that persist globally and within countries, contributing to these preventable child deaths among people living in poverty and in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”

Reportedly, the researchers dug deep through the regular habit of hand-washing, for the study and the data were reported in dozens of nationally-representative Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Initiating in 2009, both the surveys started including questions that queried the members of the household about their hand-washing habit. The surveys were administered in more than 100 nations about every 3-5 years, ANI has reported.

The researchers noted, “This analysis demonstrates the need to promote access to hand-washing materials and placement at hand-washing locations in the dwelling, particularly in poorer, rural areas where children are more vulnerable to hand-washing preventable syndromes such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.”

The report from the study reveals the following:

  1. According to MICS surveys, the availability of soap anywhere in the households ranged from nearly 21 percent in Senegal to 99.1 percent in Iraq and Serbia. In Africa, the percentages of households using soap with water at a hand-washing place range from as low as 0.1 percent in Ethiopia to a high percentage of 34.7 in Swaziland.
  2. The availability of soap along with water was higher in the Eastern-Mediterranean region compared to Africa and ranged from 42.6 percent in Afghanistan to a higher rate of 91.5 percent in Iraq.
  3. In Southeast Asia, it was observed that almost 79 percent of households in Bhutan had soap with water, compared to a lower rate of 21.4 percent in Bangladesh.
  4. The households with a low income often had extremely low access to soap with water for washing hands, compared to the wealthier households (for example, 6 percent and 85 percent at poorer and wealthier regions respectively in Nepal).

Hand-washing with soap prevents the spread of multiple diseases, especially diarrhoea and pneumonia, which caused approximately 1.6 million deaths of children worldwide in the year 2013, ANI reports.

There exists a plethora of reasons why people in many middle and low-income nations may not be habituated to use soap for washing their hands at home, including the price of the products, availability of the commercial goods which are affordable in rural areas, especially the ones with extremely poor road networks. The urgency to prioritize other complex expenditures such as- food, becomes one major reason amongst all.

According to the reports, the researchers have suggested a number of potential solutions, including the idea of increasing the availability of soapy water which will promote its use as a less expensive but an affordable substitute. Proper social marketing and private-public partnerships, such as the Global Hand-washing Day, which is celebrated annually on October 15, might also help increase the affordability in those households with the greatest need. Increasing access to soap and promoting hand-washing will become an important step towards achieving the target of reducing the rate of child mortality along with eliminating the inequities by 2030- a plan of the global Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the member countries of the United Nations.

The study has been published in the ‘American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.’

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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