One in 3 healthcare facilities in Nigeria without clean water —Study

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Although Nigeria boasts the fastest-growing economy on the African continent, a new study has revealed that at least one-third of its population do not have access to clean water, while two-thirds do not have access to basic, private toilets, and one in three healthcare facilities do not have access to water.

This new report which was released by WaterAid Nigeria to mark the Universal Health Coverage Day 2016, which held yesterday, December 12, revealed this silent emergency of erratic or non-existent water supply, broken toilets and poor hygiene, which puts the health of patients, staff and surrounding communities at risk.

Unfortunately, of the 10 million deaths from antimicrobial resistant infections predicted by 2050, an estimated 4.1 million would likely be in sub-Saharan Africa, where clean water, good sanitation and rigorous hygiene practices, which might prevent infections in the first place, are often lacking.

WaterAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Dr Michael Ojo, said “All too often, healthcare conditions in many low- and middle-income countries are characterised by unreliable or non-existent water supplies, inadequate sanitation, and unsafe medical waste disposal. This situation leaves healthcare professionals unable to properly care for patients, and leaves doctors, midwives, nurses, cleaners and patients alike at serious risk of infection and illness.

“Good health, dignified and clean healthcare, and effectively combating the rise of antimicrobial resistance requires clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene practice in homes, in schools and in hospitals and health centres, all around the world.”

According to WaterAid Nigeria’s own recent assessment of WASH facilities in Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) conducted in six focal states, Bauchi, Benue, Enugu, Ekiti, Jigawa and Plateau, 21.1 per cent of the facilities assessed did not have at least one toilet facility and none met the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) minimum standard of separate toilet facilities for males and females, as well separate toilet facilities for staff and patients.

Only 27.6 per cent of the 242 PHCs assessed met NPHCDA minimum standard of access to a motorised borehole. Across the six states, only 49 (20.2 per cent) of the PHCs had hand washing facilities in toilet facilities. Hand washing facilities were observed in delivery rooms in only 133 (54.9 per cent) of the facilities assessed, while the ward and consulting rooms had hand washing facilities in 64 (26.4 per cent) and 74 (30.5 per cent) of the facilities respectively, suggesting poor hygiene practices in the health centres.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO), 42 per cent of healthcare facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to water and in Nigeria, almost a third (29 per cent) of hospitals and clinics do not have access to clean water and the same percentage do not have safe toilets while one in six (16 per cent) do not have anywhere to wash hands with soap.

WaterAid Nigeria, therefore, urged healthcare professionals to join its global petition to ask national governments to accelerate their plans for safe, reliable access to water, sanitation and hygiene in all health facilities.

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