Hand Washing: WaterAid calls for action to improve WASH in healthcare facilities

International organisation, WaterAid, has launched a new campaign for health professionals, urging them to call for improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities around the world.

The organisation made the call in a statement signed by the Communication Officer of the organisation, Mrs Oluseyi Abdulmalik, to commemorate the Global Hand Washing Day.

Abdulmalik noted that some 38 per cent of hospitals and clinics in low and middle income countries around the world do not have regular access to water, basic private toilets and a way to wash hands with soap.

She said in Sub-Saharan Africa, some 42 per cent of healthcare facilities do not have access to water.

She also quoted the World Health Organisation (WHO) as saying, “29 per cent of hospitals and clinics in Nigeria do not have access to clean water and the same percentage does not have safe toilets.  The report also shows that 16 per cent do not have anywhere to wash hands with soap.

“This puts patients and healthcare workers at unacceptable risk of infection, including some of the most vulnerable members of society, that is new mothers and their newborns.”

Through the statement, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Dr Michael Ojo, said “Clean, plentiful water, good sanitation and good hygiene including hand washing with soap are absolutely essential to effective healthcare. Yet almost a third of hospitals and clinics in Nigeria are without even rudimentary access to water. It is unacceptable that patients and medical workers are exposed to such risk of infection.

“The ability to keep a hospital or clinic clean is such a fundamental basic requirement of health care and within the Sustainable Development Goal 6 commitment to ensuring everyone has access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.

“We want to see healthcare facilities prioritised, no new hospitals or clinics should be built without water and sanitation. There must be individual and collective responsibility for ensuring hygienic conditions in health centres. We need everyone involved in leading and shaping health services to work together to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are protected,” he said.

Held every October 15, the Global Handwashing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.