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Half Of Health Care Facilities Globally Lack Basic Hygiene Services: UN Report

The WHO and UNICEF report states that contaminated hands and environments play a significant role in pathogen transmission in health care facilities

Half Of Health Care Facilities Globally Lack Basic Hygiene Services: UN Report
Of the countries with available data, 1 in 10 health care facilities globally had no sanitation service

New Delhi: Half of health care facilities worldwide lack basic hygiene services with water and soap or alcohol-based hand rubs where patients receive care and at toilets in these facilities, according to the latest Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report by WHO and UNICEF.

Around 3.85 billion people use these facilities, putting them at greater risk of infection, including 688 million people who receive care at facilities with no hygiene services at all.

WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, Dr Maria Neira said,

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.

Also Read: How WASH Programmes Are Improving Lives Of Children

The latest report, “Progress on WASH in health care facilities 2000-2021: special focus on WASH and infection prevention and control”, has for the first time established this 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.

For hygiene, data are now available for 40 countries, representing 35 per cent of the world’s population, up from 21 countries in 2020 and 14 in 2019. The newly established global estimate reveals a clearer and more alarming picture of the state of hygiene in health care facilities.

Also Read: How Improving Access To Water And Hygiene Facilities Can Help Break The Gender Bias

Though 68 per cent of health care facilities had hygiene facilities at points of care, and 65 per cent had handwashing facilities with water and soap at toilets, only 51 per cent had both and therefore met the criteria for basic hygiene services. Furthermore, 1 in 11 (9 per cent) of health care facilities globally have neither.

UNICEF Director of WASH and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED), Kelly Ann Naylor said,

If health care providers don’t have access to a hygiene service, patients don’t have a health care facility. Hospitals and clinics without safe water and basic hygiene and sanitation services are a potential death trap for pregnant mothers, newborns, and children. Every year, around 670 000 newborns lose their lives to sepsis. This is a travesty – even more so as their deaths are preventable.

The report notes that contaminated hands and environments play a significant role in pathogen transmission in health care facilities and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Interventions to increase access to handwashing with water and soap and environmental cleaning form the cornerstone of infection prevention and control programmes and are crucial to providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth.

Also Read: #SwasthBharat: Hand Hygiene – Why, How & When. A Quick Guide

Coverage of WASH facilities is still uneven across different regions and income groupings:
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.

In the Least Developed Countries, only 53 per cent of health care facilities have access on-premises to a protected water source. To compare, the global figure is 78 per cent with hospitals (88 per cent) doing better than smaller health care facilities (77 per cent), and the figure for eastern and south-eastern Asia is 90 per cent. Globally, around 3 per cent of healthcare facilities in urban areas and 11 per cent in rural areas had no water service.

Of the countries with available data, 1 in 10 health care facilities globally had no sanitation service. The proportion of health care facilities with no sanitation services ranged from 3 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean and in eastern and south-eastern Asia to 22 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. In the Least Developed Countries, just 1 in 5 (21 per cent) had basic sanitation services in health care facilities.

Also Read: Internet Saathis In Bihar Are Helping The Community Fight COVID-19 Pandemic By Educating About Hygiene Measures

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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