MEXICO CITY and PANAMA CITY, May 21, 2020 / — Orbia, a global leader in specialty products and innovative solutions for building and infrastructure, precision agriculture, healthcare delivery and data communications, is supporting UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 pandemic to expand efforts to keep children and their families safe from infection.
Orbia is donating $450,000 USD and $55,000 USD in essential supplies, including water tanks and pipes manufactured by Orbia, to address the urgent needs of 450,000 people in areas such as schools, health centers, childcare facilities and other high-traffic public spaces. The contribution will enable the installation of handwashing stations in areas of greatest need including in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Peru and South Africa.
Handwashing with soap and water, when done correctly, is crucial to preventing the spread of novel coronavirus disease, but only three out of five people globally have basic handwashing facilities.
“As a global company working to advance life around the world, it’s incumbent upon us to step up in times of need,” said Daniel Martínez-Valle, CEO of Orbia. “Safe handwashing is a vital step in preventing the spread of novel coronavirus and other diseases. We are proud to support UNICEF to supply critical handwashing facilities to help protect our most vulnerable populations so that our communities can thrive today and tomorrow.”
Approximately 40 percent of the world’s population (three billion people) do not have a handwashing facility with soap and water at home, rising to 75 percent in the least developed countries, with an estimated 900 million children lacking these facilities at school; and around one in six healthcare centers have no hygiene service or vital handwashing stations where patients receive care.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, over 50 million people, including children and adolescents, do not have access to basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home, with 25 million people having no facility at all.
“COVID-19 puts vulnerable groups more at risk of getting infected by the pandemic simply because they are not able to wash their hands,” said Bernt Aasen, UNICEF Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean. “More than ever, every child and family in Latin America and the Caribbean should have access to safe drinking water and soap, but it is not the case. Everyone can contribute, including the private sector, and here is where Orbia’s generous contribution plays such a critical role.”
Handwashing is crucial in protecting children and their families against many other potentially lethal diseases – including diarrhea, which is the largest cause of death for children under five. With a greater strain on health services due to the pandemic, preventing disease is crucial. During a health crisis, children are among the most severely impacted, facing loss of primary care, separation from sick caregivers, risk of psychological distress, disruption of education and a heightened risk of exploitation, violence and abuse, with those living in poverty facing even greater hardship.