WASH for Healthcare

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) amenities, including waste management and environmental cleaning services, are critical to their safe functioning of the health care institutions.

Lack of WASH and Associated Complications

  • Lack of WASH services will result in a compromise of infection prevention and control. As a result, patients are at risk of avoidable infections.
  • Lack of WASH services will also result in undermining of efforts to improve maternal, neonatal and child health.
  • Lack of WASH facilities will also result in unnecessary use of antibiotics, thereby spreading antimicrobial resistance.

The World Health Assembly Resolution hopes to catalyse domestic and external investments to help reach the global targets which include ensuring at least 60% of all healthcare facilities have basic WASH services by 2022; at least 80% have the same by 2025, and 100% of all facilities provide basic WASH services by 2030.

Attaining the Targets

  • The health authorities must first conduct in-depth assessments and establish national standards and accountability mechanisms. Lack of quality baseline data limits authorities’ understanding of the problem.
  • Once the data is corroborated and national road-maps to improve WASH services are developed, measurable benchmarks must be created by health authorities, which can be used to improve and maintain infrastructure and ensure that facilities are ‘fit to serve’.
  • The health authorities must increase engagement with healthcare workers to instil a culture of cleanliness and safety in all healthcare facilities.
  • An information campaign targeting facility administrators, all workers in the health system — from doctors and nurses to midwives and cleaners must be undertaken to make them aware of, and to ensure they practise, current WASH and infection prevention and control procedures (IPC).
  • Further modules on WASH services and IPC should be included in pre-service training and as part of ongoing professional development.
  • The authorities should work more closely with communities, especially in rural areas, to promote demand for WASH services.
  • Collection of data on key WASH indicators must become a routine. This will help in accelerating progress by promoting continued action and accountability.

WASH services in many facilities across the country are missing or substandard.  Hence WASH services must be made an integral part of the National Health Mission.

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