‘1.8bn people depend on healthcare facilities without basic water services’

Around 1.8 billion people are at heightened risk of Covid-19 and other diseases because they use or work in healthcare facilities without basic water services, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Unicef said in a joint report.

The report titled, ‘Global progress report on WASH in health care facilities: fundamentals first’, comes as the ongoing pandemic is exposing key vulnerabilities within health systems, including inadequate infection prevention and control, reports Xinhua news agency.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are vital to the safety of health workers and patients yet provision of these services is not prioritised, it said.

Worldwide, one in four healthcare facilities has no water services, one in three does not have access to hand hygiene where care is provided, one in 10 has no sanitation services, and one in three does not segregate waste safely.

The situation is worst of all in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs): one in two health care facilities does not have basic drinking water, one in four health care facilities has no hand hygiene facilities at points of care; and three in five lack basic sanitation services.

The report’s preliminary estimates indicate that it would cost roughly $1 per capita to enable all 47 LDCs to establish basic water service in health facilities.

The report provides four main recommendations, which include implementing costed national roadmaps with appropriate financing and monitoring and regularly reviewing progress in improving WASH services, practices and the enabling environment.

By 2020, over 130 partners have committed resources, of which 34 have made dedicated financial commitments totalling $125 million.

The data in this year’s report include statistics for 165 countries, from surveys representing 760,000 facilities.

Compared to last year’s baseline report, estimates were available for 125 countries with data from surveys representing 560,000 facilities.

It is the first time these data have been compiled and analysed.