… Only 1 in 3 facilities in SSA have hand washing facilities with water & soap in toilets
Half of health care facilities across the world have no basic hygiene services with water and soap or alcohol-based hand rub at points of care and at toilets in these facilities.
This development, revealed by the latest Joint Monitoring Programme, JMP, report of the World Health Organisation, WHO, and UNICEF, notes that about 3.85 billion people using these facilities, are at greater risk of infection, including 688 million people who receive care at facilities with no hygiene services.
The report, “Progress on WASH in health care facilities 2000-2021: Special focus on WASH and infection prevention and control”, established the global baseline on hygiene services – which assessed access at points of care as well as toilets – as more countries than ever report on critical elements of WASH services in their hospitals and other health centres.
The report which is being launched at World Water Week taking place in Stockholm, Sweden, presents hygiene data for 40 countries, representing 35 per cent of the world’s population, up from 21 countries in 2020 and 14 in 2019.
The data further reveals that many health care facilities lack basic environmental cleaning and safe segregation and disposal of health care waste.
Though 68 per cent of health care facilities had hygiene facilities at points of care, and 65 per cent had hand washing facilities with water and soap at toilets, only 51 per cent had both and met the criteria for basic hygiene services. Furthermore, 1 in 11 (9 per cent ) of health care facilities globally have neither.
The report said facilities in sub-Saharan Africa are lagging on hygiene services. While three-quarters (73 per cent) of health care facilities in the region overall have alcohol-based hand rub or water and soap at points of care, only one-third (37 per cent) have handwashing facilities with water and soap at toilets.
The vast majority (87 per cent) of hospitals have hand hygiene facilities at points of care, compared to 68 per cent of other healthcare facilities.
Globally, around 3 per cent of health care facilities in urban areas and 11 per cent in rural areas had no water service.
UNICEF Director of WASH, and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED), Kelly Ann Naylor, noted: “Hospitals and clinics without safe water and basic hygiene and sanitation services are a potential death trap for pregnant mothers, newborns, and children.
The WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, Dr Maria Neira, noted: “Hygiene facilities and practices in health care settings are non-negotiable. Their improvement is essential to pandemic recovery, prevention, and preparedness.
Hygiene in health care facilities cannot be secured without increasing investments in basic measures, which include safe water, clean toilets, and safely managed health care waste.
“I encourage Member States to step up their efforts to implement their 2019 World Health Assembly commitment to strengthen water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in health care facilities, and to monitor these efforts.”