by Brianna Crandall — June 11, 2018 — Global hygiene and health company Essity and United Nations entity Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) recently launched the sixth edition of the Hygiene and Health Report. Hygiene and health are critical catalysts for solving several global societal issues stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. With this report, Essity and WSSCC address opportunities and challenges throughout the human life cycle, highlighting new research, best practices and possible solutions as well as the importance of providing appropriate public hygiene facilities and effective sanitization.
The report shows the societal implications of prioritizing hygiene and health in decision-making, whether by a policy maker, a care professional or an individual. Drawing on insights and research from experts, academia, Essity and WSSCCs own experience as well as Essity’s survey on hygiene and health of over 15,000 respondents worldwide, the report demonstrates how hygiene and health act as catalysts for solving several global societal issues:
1/ High absence rates in preschools and schools have a negative impact on the foundation for development, and put affected children at a disadvantage early in life. The impact of hygiene conditions in the environments of children is a global issue; according to the survey, 54% of parents say that their children refrain from using toilets in schools on a weekly basis, and the top two countries are India and the US, with 76% and 68%, respectively. By implementing accessible hygiene facilities and promoting better hand hygiene, absence among preschoolers in a Swedish region with 1.7 million inhabitants was reduced by up to 13%. In addition to increasing school participation, the investment in hygiene and health also led to yearly productivity savings of $5.5 million, 10,000 fewer doctor visits and 3,000 fewer prescriptions for antibiotics.
2/ Girls and women not attending school or work due to menstruation has a severe impact on gender equality. 49% of women worldwide experience social discomfort during menstruation, and multiple studies show that women and girls around the world stay home from work and school during their period. By providing hygiene facilities adapted for women’s needs and integrating menstruation management in policy work, we can increase women’s workforce participation and create a path to women’s empowerment.
3/ Living with incontinence can severely affect quality of life and dignity for the individual, as well as participation and contribution on a societal level. 400 million people suffer from incontinence globally, and with an ageing population this figure is expected to increase further. By making incontinence care more focused on the individual and by benefiting from new, innovative and purpose-driven solutions, patients can be empowered to lead a more dignified and qualitative life and remain a functioning member of society. For example, estimates of the benefits of improved incontinence care in the Netherlands show annual potential savings from a societal perspective of EUR 125 million.
Magnus Groth, president and CEO of Essity, remarked:
As a leading global hygiene and health company, Essity has unique knowledge and insights to drive global dialogue about the strong connection between hygiene, health and well-being. We collaborate with partners using our different perspectives, competences and resources to raise awareness, develop standards and influence regulations in relation to health and hygiene.
Rolf Luyendijk, executive director at WSSCC, added:
Hygiene and health are prerequisites and enablers for fulfilling many of the Sustainable Development Goals. We’re already seeing incredible progress towards the 2030 agenda, but there is still work to be done. Putting hygiene and health at the center of the conversation means more emphasis on forgotten and taboo topics; it opens up possibilities for change that reaches far beyond just individuals, but to society as a whole. Hygiene is only the beginning.
Since 2014, Essity and WSSCC have partnered in the mission to encourage a global conversation about hygiene and health issues as well as opportunities across organizations, sectors, and countries. In 2016, the two groups took the partnership further by jointly publishing the Hygiene Matters Report: Joining Forces for Progress. With this edition of the report, the partners say they are continuing the work. They offer new insights by combining research findings, statistical evidence, successful cases and testimonies from people whose voices are rarely heard. They also highlight solutions and actions that they identify as critical for improving hygiene and health standards across the globe and for every part of life’s course. Their ambition is to inspire and invite more players to join the dialogue and partnership and to help identify sustainable solutions going forward.
Hygiene and Health Report
This report is the latest edition in a series of reports that Essity has published since 2008 with the aim of raising awareness about the pivotal role that hygiene, sanitation, and health play in well-being and for individuals and communities, and to highlight solutions to some of the problems we face in these areas. The report builds on a combination of third-party information and Essity’s own data, including a recent global survey conducted through web panels in 15 different countries, collecting answers from a total of 15,530 respondents. Questions in the survey centered on hygiene and health concerns, public hygiene, personal hygiene, menstruation, incontinence, antibiotic resistance and sustainability.
The Hygiene and Health Report 2018-2019 is available to download from the Essity website.