​​​​A new charity which focuses on fighting preventable disease by promoting hygiene – the most cost effective public health intervention – launches in Sydney on "Global Handwashing Day", October 15 2011. 

The World Hygiene Programme (WHP) is working to build a public health agenda led by water, sanitation and hygiene (or ""˜WASH’) in developing countries, and a WASH agenda led by hygiene promotion. Their vision is a world where preventable diseases are not the world’s leading killer of children under five years old.

Hygiene is the most cost effective way to prevent the two biggest killers of children – acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea. Improved hygiene practices such as handwashing can reduce diarrhoeal illness by nearly 45 percent. Whereas introducing clean water reduces diarrhoeal illness by only 21 percent. Despite this hygiene receives only a tenth of the money that is spent on WASH.

WHP will focus a spotlight on hygiene by:
  • Lobbying decision makers to prioritise hygiene.
  • Developing free online courses in hygiene and WASH.
  • Disseminating high quality information and tools on hygiene.
  • Offering free hygiene promotion advice and direction to water charities.
  • Developing strategic partnerships with other WASH organisations to help prioritise hygiene.

Founder of the WHP, Mark Eddleston says, ""Simple techniques such as handwashing can have a dramatic effect on reducing preventable disease. It’s not enough to bring clean water and sanitation to a remote village or urban slum, you need the community to engage in improved hygiene practices in order for them to be effective.

""We’ve created the World Hygiene Programme in response to the lack of focus on hygiene. We know that through hygiene promotion we can dramatically reduce the second biggest killer of children around the world - diarrhoea. We want to work closely with those in the development community to ensure that hygiene promotion is a part of every new water or sanitation project"".

WHP’s first project is with Dutch NGO The Water Channel to create the world’s free, first open-source online courses in WASH. Courses will be aimed at those interested in learning about WASH and more specifically at the many charities that deliver water and sanitation projects whilst ignoring hygiene promoting.

The WHP website contains a comprehensive set of resources and tools covering hygiene, handwashing, behaviour change, community-led total sanitation (CLTS), disgust, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea.