Hand washing " important tool" to fight Ebola

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In Conakry, Guinea, a mobilizer teaches children about proper handwashing techniques, which help prevent the spread of diseases, including Ebola. Photo: UNICEF/Timothy La Rose

A simple act of washing hands with soap can help protect people against viral infections, including Ebola, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

On the 7th Global Handwashing Day, observed around the world on 15 October, the UN children's agency is highlighting the value of washing hands for improved hygiene.

It says that simple measures like washing with soap before eating or after using the toilet can help protect people from viral infections coming from seasonal flu or the common cold.

UNICEF's Najwa Mekki is based in Dakar, Senegal.

"Why is this important in this particular context where we are witnessing an outbreak of Ebola affecting the three big countries in West and Central Africa, notably Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia? It is important because just the simple act of washing hands with soap can contribute or is one element that can help protect people against this terrible disease." (19")

Figures released by the UN show that in 2013 more than 340,000 children under five, almost 1,000 a day, died from diarrhoeal diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 1'15"

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