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Essity Hygiene and Health Report 2023–2024: The Importance of Behavioral Changes and Preventive Actions

Advancing Health and Well-Being: Prevention for Preparedness in Hygiene and Health

Essity Hygiene and Health Report 2023–2024: The Importance of Behavioral Changes and Preventive Actions

Advancing Health and Well-Being: Prevention for Preparedness in Hygiene and Health

Published 11-28-23

Submitted by Essity

Two young children shown washing their hands.

Originally published on

Prevention for preparedness in hygiene and health

An important starting point for reducing the spread of infections is behavior change, both on the individual level and as a wider society. Good hygiene practices form the foundation for efficient prevention – allowing better well-being and health by preventing diseases from spreading through physical barriers and cleanliness.

As discussed in the previous Hygiene and Health Report, an overuse and misuse of antimicrobials along with a lack of access to basic hygiene services have led to the emergence of AMR, a significant threat to public health as it risks making previously curable illnesses life-threatening.1 At the same time, preventive measures such as hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and innovative solutions - weather in a health care setting or at home - needs more emphasis in fighting AMR.

The human cost of AMR is staggering. It is calculated that drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050.39 The cost of AMR to the economy is also significant. In addition to death and disability, prolonged illness results in longer hospital stays, the need for more expensive medications, and financial challenges for those impacted.

Building a lasting culture of hygiene practices 

On the individual level, there is work to be done to ensure that good hygiene practices are followed both in society at large and within healthcare systems. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of practices like good hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing etiquette to prevent disease spread. While the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that it is possible for populations to temporarily adopt good hygiene practices, it must be recognized that lasting behavioral changes take time. It is also vital that hand hygiene fatigue, with rigorous hand hygiene routines seen as unnecessary and ignored, must not become the norm. To do this, a holistic strategy is required that incorporates education, follow up, feedback, communication, and infrastructure improvements.

First, the necessary pre-requisite of access to hygiene services, materials and infrastructure must be met. During the pandemic, the use and production of hand sanitizer skyrocketed. It is equally important to secure access to basic hygiene products such as soap, clean water, and hygiene products, especially in places where they are most urgently needed, according to Michele Cecchini, responsible for the OECD program work on Public Health.

Education and hand hygiene training must also be made available to society at large. These efforts need to be advanced in all countries globally – many adults have not received any new information about hand hygiene since early childhood, according to Michele Cecchini. Since new habits take time to form, they must also be reinforced using supportive messaging and information, and training must be repeated. Feedback is also an important aspect of reinforcing new hand hygiene habits but is often a difficult component to implement. Repeated training, however, offers a good opportunity for this. Here, innovations that make hand hygiene training more interactive combine easy access to training with realtime feedback to help establish good practices.

There is a need for continuous engagement to ensure good hand hygiene practices become lasting. Such a behavioral change is not easy to implement but would have wide-ranging positive impacts on society’s well-being.

Download the Essity 2023-2024 Hygiene and Health Report to learn more

Learn more about Essity here

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Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company that develops, produces and sells Personal Care (Baby Care, Feminine Care, Incontinence Products and Medical Solutions), Consumer Tissue and Professional Hygiene products and solutions. 

Our vision is; Dedicated to improving well-being through leading hygiene and health solutions. The name Essity stems from the words essentials and necessities. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under many strong brands, including the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other brands, such as Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. Essity has about 48,000 employees and net sales in 2017 amounted to approximately 12.8 bn USD (SEK 109bn, EUR 11.3bn). The business operations are based on a sustainable business model with focus on value creation for people and nature.

The company has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Essity used to be part of the SCA Group.

About Tork

Tork is a brand of Essity. Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company that develops personal care, professional hygiene and consumer tissue products and solutions. Essity offers Tork paper towels, toilet paper, skin care products, facial tissue,  wipers, wet wipes, napkins and other hygiene products for washrooms, wash stations, healthcare areas, food and beverage handling, food preparation, manufacturing and maintenance. For more information, visit

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