By the bioMérieux Connection Editors
In most places in the United States, we can turn on the faucet to pour ourselves a glass of water, wash our hands, take a shower, or wash dishes. When we get a cut or scrape, we can quickly wash the wound at the sink with soap and water, and then carry on with our day. It’s so simple and automatic that most of us don’t stop to think about the impact of clean water access until we lose it, such as after a major storm or natural disaster—or until we face a global pandemic.
WASH, which stands for water, sanitation, and hygiene, are basic principles that are extremely impactful in reducing the burden of infectious diseases. COVID-19 has brought attention to public health issues like access to clean water and infection prevention and control measures, which play a critical role in maintaining our health. In addition, the public has begun to understand that those measures are not exclusive to healthcare settings—they encompass and affect the whole world we live in, and everyone has a role to play.
In high-income countries like the United States, it is easy for most individuals to take simple steps that help prevent the spread of disease, such as regular hand washing. That’s because the infrastructure to provide clean water and soap is present in most places and accessible to most people. Additionally, healthcare facilities usually have the resources they need to maintain infection prevention and control programs.
However, this is not the case for billions of people around the world. Infectious diseases do not respect international borders and this lack of access has the potential to affect everyone, regardless of where we live. Infectious diseases spread fastest and most easily in places where preventive measures do not exist or are inadequate. In turn, clean water is one of the most important foundations for public health.
In honor of World Hand Hygiene Day, we’ve teamed up with Lindsay Denny, MPH and Health Advisor at Global Water 2020, to talk about the importance and impact of WASH in the fight against infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.