Half of the health facilities in the world do not have basic sanitation: WHO, UNICEF

According to the latest report from the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP), half of health care facilities around the world do not have basic toilets with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs where patients receive care and toilet facilities in these facilities. Approximately 3.85 billion people use these facilities, putting them at a greater risk of infection, including 688 million people receiving care in unsanitary facilities.

“Hygiene structures and practices in health care facilities are non-negotiable. Their improvement is essential for pandemic recovery, prevention and preparedness. Hygiene in health care facilities cannot be guaranteed without increasing investment in basic measures, which include clean water, clean sanitation and safely managed medical waste, “said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of WHO, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. “I encourage member states to step up their efforts to implement the 2019 World Health Assembly’s pledge to strengthen water, sanitation and sanitation (WASH) services in facilities and to monitor these efforts “.

The latest report, “Progress on WASH in health care facilities 2000–2021: special focus on WASH and infection Prevention and Control”, established for the first time this global baseline on sanitation, which assessed access to Healthcare points as well as toilets – as more countries than ever report critical items of WASH services in their hospitals and other health centers. Regarding hygiene, data is now available for 40 countries, representing 35% of the world population, compared to 21 countries in 2020 and 14 in 2019.

The newly established global estimate reveals a clearer and more alarming picture of the sanitation status in health care facilities. Although 68% of health care facilities had sanitation facilities at points of care and 65% had facilities for washing hands with soap and water in toilets, only 51% had both and thus met the criteria for basic sanitation . Furthermore, 1 in 11 (9%) of healthcare facilities globally have neither.

“If healthcare workers don’t have access to a sanitation service, patients don’t have a healthcare facility,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF Director of WASH and Climate, Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED). “Hospitals and clinics without clean water and basic sanitation and sanitation are a potential death trap for pregnant mothers, babies and children. Each year, approximately 670,000 newborns lose their lives due to sepsis. This is a parody, especially as their death is preventable. “

The report notes that contaminated hands and environments play a significant role in the transmission of pathogens in health care facilities and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Interventions to increase access to soap and water hand washing and environmental cleansing form the cornerstone of infection prevention and control programs and are critical to providing quality care, particularly for safe delivery.

Coverage of WASH structures is still uneven across different regions and income groups:

  • Facilities in sub-Saharan Africa are lagging behind hygiene Services. While three quarters (73%) of health care facilities in the region have overall alcohol or soap and water hand scrubbing at care points, only one third (37%) have soap and water hand washing facilities in services hygienic. The vast majority (87%) of hospitals have hand hygiene facilities at the points of care, compared to 68% of other health care facilities.
  • In less developed countries, only 53% of healthcare facilities have on-premise access to a secure facility water source. For comparison, the global figure is 78% with hospitals (88%) performing better than smaller healthcare facilities (77%) and the figure for East and Southeast Asia is 90%. Globally, about 3% of health facilities in urban areas and 11% in rural areas did not have a water service.
  • Among countries with available data, 1 in 10 healthcare facilities globally did not have sanitation facilities. The share of health facilities with n sanitation it ranged from 3% in Latin America and the Caribbean and East and Southeast Asia to 22% in Sub-Saharan Africa. In less developed countries, only 1 in 5 (21%) had basic sanitation in health care facilities.
  • The data also reveals that many healthcare facilities lack basic environmental cleanliness and safe segregation and disposal of medical waste.

The report is launched at World Water Week which takes place in Stockholm, Sweden. The annual conference, which runs from 23 August to 1 September, explores new ways to address humanity’s greatest challenges: from food security and health to agriculture, technology, biodiversity and climate.


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