To beat COVID-19, hand hygiene must become an everyday reality for all Indonesians

Increasing access to handwashing facilities and promoting hygiene behaviour change are critical to stopping the spread of deadly diseases like COVID-19.

15 October 2020
Adelina Salasika (Sika), 8, washes her hands with soap
Adelina Salasika (Sika), 8, washes her hands with soap at her home in Jakarta, Indonesia.

JAKARTA, 15 October 2020 – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, the Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap is calling for all parts of society to ensure that every person in Indonesia is able to practice adequate hand hygiene.

Handwashing with soap and water is one of the most effective interventions to stop the transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections as well as diarrhoea, which is responsible for 25 per cent of child deaths every year in Indonesia. Yet seven months into the pandemic, access to handwashing remains out of reach for a significant segment of the population, particularly the most vulnerable communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that one of the most effective ways to help prevent the spread of diseases is also one of the simplest,” said UNICEF Representative Debora Comini. “To beat COVID-19 today – and reduce the risk of future outbreaks – access to handwashing with soap must become a reality for everyone in Indonesia.”

According to official figures, 60 million Indonesians – or 1 in 4 – do not have access to public handwashing facilities, which are severely lacking in critical settings such as schools, workplaces, health facilities and public spaces.

Promoting and sustaining handwashing behaviour is also key. According to preliminary government monitoring data, only 37 per cent of people in Jakarta and East Java were observed washing their hands with soap or using hand sanitizer in public places.

The lack of hand hygiene severely impacts COVID-19 prevention and recovery efforts. In health facilities essential services are disrupted, while in schools the start of classroom-based learning is delayed, impacting children’s access to education.

To mark Global Handwashing Day on 15th  October, the partnership, which includes government, private sector, civil society organizations and UNICEF, is calling for increased collective efforts by all stakeholders – including the government, private sector, civil society, development partners, academia, the media, among others – to make hand hygiene accessible for all.

Urgent actions to increase access to handwashing facilities and promote hygiene behaviour change include:

  1. Making hand hygiene available to everyone.
  2. Working collaboratively with all stakeholders to promote hygiene behaviour change for sustainable handwashing with soap practices.
  3. Ensuring that handwashing promotion is sustainable and facilities are resilient.
  4. Delivering knowledge of handwashing appropriately.

In response to COVID-19, UNICEF is working with the government to promote safe hygiene practices and to distribute water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, including handwashing stations, disinfectant equipment and bars of soap to vulnerable communities.

The members of the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap are: Ministry of Health, UNICEF, Unilever, Wings, Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, Trakindo, Adaro, Astra International, Cussons, Daai TV Network, USAID, SNV, Save the Children, GIZ, Mercy Corps, Lions Club and National Board of Zakat (BAZNAS).


The full text of the Call to Action can be accessed here.

Media contacts

Kinanti Pinta Karana
Communications Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia
Tel: +62 8158805842


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