Topics and Themes

The Global Hygiene Summit will consider three main topics:


What is Hygiene and what role can it play in improving public health?


The Global burden of preventable hygiene-related diseases


Synthesizing Lessons towards an Actionable Plan for Global Hygiene

These topics will be viewed, and debated through the perspective of the following themes:

  • Science
  • Practice
  • Policy


Despite the fact that globally, around 2.4 million deaths (4.2% of all deaths) could be prevented annually if everyone practised appropriate hygiene and had access to reliable sanitation and drinking water ‘hygiene’ languishes as a minority scientific and political interest. The total benefits of these interventions are greater than the health benefits alone and can be valued at more than the costs of the interventions.

The Global Hygiene Summit will reinforce the fact that hygiene is foundational to health and give greater context to this unstructured field. From pandemic preparedness through to AMR response the Global Hygiene Summit will explore the role hygiene can play in enabling better health outcomes. By shifting the thinking around hygiene interventions from reactive to effective disease control mechanisms the Global Hygiene Summit aims to reframe the way hygiene, and the role it plays in our health, is viewed.

male scientist looking through microscope


WASH interventions are often designed and evaluated in quantitative terms. However, this stand-alone data can often mask a reality where installations are not used, used incorrectly or are not sustainable. It is also true that improved knowledge and awareness alone does not always translate into behaviour change and, without the required infrastructure behaviour change efforts will be fruitless.

The Global Hygiene Summit will explore the need for a co-ordinated approach that evidences how an infrastructure + evidence-based approach can create sustainable change. It will explore the nuances that need to be considered for a behaviour change programme to be truly effective whilst exploring exactly what incentives need to be in place which means the difference between short term awareness raising and prolonged behaviour change.


Hygiene has low political prominence with high-level commitment often failing to translate into on the ground progress. This is evidenced in the gap between international political commitment and country level activity or, put bluntly, the difference between discussion and investment. Municipal governments often lack the political autonomy necessary as well as access to the funds to invest in basic services. And, at the national level there is mixed understanding of what motivates action from politicians and civil servants. By 2030, 80% of the world’s poorest people will live in fragile states where state-owned water and sanitation utilities often lack the resources to provide necessary services and, therefore, those that are delivered are done so through donor-supporter initiatives.

The Global Hygiene Summit will explore the reasons behind the lack of political will and discover what can be done to overcome the hurdles these create. By motivating stimulating discussions that seek to explore the political pathways and how a holistic approach can motivate a compound effect, and how we can measure the economic impact of hygiene interventions, and the role they play in policy.