The World Health Organisation has urged countries to ensure schools put in place the required health protocols before allowing learners back to sessions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said it was particularly important to have handwashing facilities installed in all schools before any reopening.
“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, where hand hygiene is one of the key recommendations for keeping safe, this is a major obstacle,” he said.
The call comes as various countries embark on plans to reopen their economies and learning facilities after months-long shut downs.
In Africa, many countries are still trying to come up with best ways to reopen schools, but some have already allowed a resumption of sessions.
Tedros however noted that globally, more than two out of five schools still lack basic hand hygiene facilities.
“More than two out of five schools around the world lack basic handwashing facilities, affecting an estimated 818 million children,” he said.
“Most of these schools do not even have clean water or working toilets.”
The WHO has previously touted handwashing as an important aspect of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside wearing of face coverings, testing and isolation where necessary.
Tedros said in his briefing: “water, sanitation and hygiene facilities must be a priority. Our children’s future depends upon it.”