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This report is the first of its kind. It brings together various data sets to present the current status of hand hygiene, highlight lagging progress, and call governments and supporting agencies to action, offering numerous inspiring examples of change.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hand hygiene received unprecedented attention and became a central pillar in national COVID prevention strategies. However, concern with hand hygiene should not only be as temporary public health measure in times of crisis, but as a vital everyday behaviour that contributes to health and economic resilience. Hand hygiene is a highly cost-effective investment, providing outsized health benefits for relatively little cost.

Despite efforts to promote hand hygiene, the rates of access to hand hygiene facilities remain stubbornly low. If current rates of progress continue, by the end of the SDG era in 2030, 1.9 billion people will still lack facilities to wash their hands at home.

This report presents a compelling case for investment in five key ‘accelerators’ as a pathway towards achieving hand hygiene for all – governance, financing, capacity development, data and information, and innovation. These accelerators are identified under the UN-Water SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.