More than 300,000 young children died last year due to diarrhoeal infections linked to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
This Saturday, 15 October, is Global Handwashing Day and the agency is urging children, families and communities to make handwashing a habit to help prevent the spread of disease.
Dianne Penn reports.
UNICEF described handwashing with soap as a "straightforward solution" that could have prevented many of these deaths.
When children wash their hands with soap after going to the toilet or before eating, their risk of getting diarrhoea drops by more than 40 per cent, the agency said.
And with countries like Haiti and Yemen facing cholera outbreaks, UNICEF is calling for the practice to become a habit to help reduce the spread of disease and save lives.
Haiti is emerging from the destruction of Hurricane Matthew which hit earlier this month.
UNICEF said cases of suspected cholera and acute diarrhoea have increased sharply in the wake of the storm.
Dianne Penn, United Nations.
Source: United Nations Radio.