Despite benefits, not enough people washing their hands with soap

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A child washes her hands. UN Photo/UNICEF/Marco Dormino

Too few people are washing their hands with soap, resulting in serious risks to young people, according to the UN Children's Agency, UNICEF.

As the world marks Global Handwashing Day on Thursday, UNICEF is calling for improvements in hygiene, including better access to water and sanitation.

Veronica Reeves has the story.

Describing it as one of the "cheapest, simplest, most effective health interventions we have", UNICEF is calling for better handwashing practices worldwide.

The UN's Children's Agency says cleaner hands can have a dramatic impact on improving children's health, keeping them safe from easily preventable diseases such as diarrhoea. Infants in the first month of life are especially vulnerable to diseases transmitted by unwashed hands.

Experts point out that regions which struggle with high child mortality rates, such as sub-Saharan Africa, often have particularly low rates of handwashing.

The large number of health care facilities without places for people to wash their hands, including medical staff, is particularly concerning says UNICEF.

Global Handwashing Day, which was first observed in 2008, typically includes a wide range of activities and events around the world.

Veronica Reeves, United Nations.

Duration: 50″

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