UN report finds most J'can schools have basic hand washing facilities

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UN report finds most J'can schools have basic hand washing facilities

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — A joint report from World health Organization (WHO) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has found that majority of schools in Jamaica are equipped with basic hand washing facilities with soap and water — a key condition for the institutions to operate safely in the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the agencies said 43 per cent of schools around the world lacked access to the facilities in 2019, they found that 95 per cent of schools in Jamaica had basic sanitation services and basic drinking water, and 97 per cent had basic hygiene services.

Still, 818 million children worldwide lack basic hand washing facilities at their schools, putting them at increased risk of being infected with COVID-19 and other transmittable diseases, the UN agencies said Thursday.

Of that number, 355 million went to schools which had facilities with water but no soap, while the rest had no facilities or water available for hand-washing at all.

The agencies outlined that in 60 countries at highest risk of health and humanitarian crises due to COVID-19, three in four children lacked basic hand washing services at school at the start of the pandemic; half of all children lacked basic water service; and more than half lacked basic sanitation service.

"Global school closures since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have presented an unprecedented challenge to children's education and wellbeing," said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore.

"We must prioritise children's learning. This means making sure that schools are safe to reopen — including with access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water and safe sanitation."

In the least developed countries, seven out of 10 schools lack basic hand washing facilities, the agencies said.

"Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services is essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic."

The WHO and UNICEF report identifies measure necessary for COVID-19 prevention and control in schools and provides guidelines on cleaning and disinfection, as well as hand washing stations with soap and safe toilets.

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