Lancet Commentary Urges Continued Support for Hand Hygiene in Public Spaces to Improve Health for People Experiencing Homelessness

November 10, 2021

By Kelly Jordan

A commentary published in The Lancet and co-authored by PhD candidate April Ballard, and Bethany Caruso, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of global health, reiterates the sustained importance of supporting and expanding universal access to hand hygiene stations in public settings, particularly as it relates to the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness. The authors note this public health measure is not only an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, but is also an opportunity to promote health equity and foster a sense of dignity and wellbeing among disadvantaged groups.

While great strides have been made to enhance and expand public access to handwashing facilities, the authors urge continued attention and improvement of available resources as an effective way to prevent disease and improve health among vulnerable populations. 

“Unfortunately, people experiencing homelessness are overwhelmingly excluded from or forgotten in hygiene efforts, despite the extreme need they have for supplies and infrastructure," says Ballard. "As we see problems such as hepatitis A outbreaks and the coronavirus pandemic emerge among people experiencing homelessness and increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness, the importance of action becomes harder and harder to ignore.”