The World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund have said one in four health care facilities around the world lacks basic water services.
The organisations made this known in a new report, ‘Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene,’ which showed that over two billion people were affected by the lack of basic water.
The WHO/UNICEF report, also referred to as WASH, is the first comprehensive global assessment of water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities.
The report revealed that one in five health care facilities had no sanitation service, which affected 1.5 billion people, just as many health centres lacked basic facilities for hand hygiene, safe segregation and disposal of health care waste.
According to the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, these services were crucial to preventing infections, reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance and providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth.
“Water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities are the most basic requirements of infection prevention and control, and of quality care. They are fundamental to respecting the dignity and human rights of every person who seeks health care and of health workers themselves. I call on people everywhere to support WASH in all health care facilities. This is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Guterres said.
The report also found that just half — 55 per cent — of health care facilities in the least developed countries had basic water services.
It is estimated that one in five births globally took place in LDCs and that each year, 17 million women in these countries gave birth in health centres with inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene.
“When a baby is born in a health facility without adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, the risk of infection and death for both the mother and the baby are high. Every birth should be supported by a safe pair of hands, washed with soap and water, using sterile equipment in a clean environment,” the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said.
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