Half of healthcare facilities globally lack basic hygiene services – WHO, UNICEF

Half of healthcare facilities worldwide lack basic hygiene services with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, where patients receive care, and toilets in these facilities, according to the latest report by the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP). ) from WHO and UNICEF. An estimated 3.85 billion people use these facilities, putting them at greater risk of infection, including 688 million people who receive care in facilities with no sanitary facilities at all.

“Hygienic facilities and practices in healthcare settings are non-negotiable. Their improvement is essential for pandemic recovery, prevention and preparedness. Hygiene in healthcare facilities cannot be ensured without increasing investment in basic measures, which include safe water, clean toilets and safely managed healthcare waste,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director. , Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. “I encourage Member States to increase 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.”

The latest report, Progress in WASH in health care facilities 2000–2021: special focus on WASH and infection prevention and control, has established for the first time this global baseline on hygiene services – which assessed access to of care as well as toilets – as more countries than ever report critical elements of WASH services in their hospitals and other health facilities. For hygiene, data are now available for 40 countries, representing 35% of the world’s population, up from 21 countries in 2020 and 14 in 2019.

The newly created global assessment reveals a clearer and more alarming picture of the state of hygiene in health care institutions. Although 68% of health care facilities had hygiene facilities at points of care and 65% had handwashing facilities with soap and water in toilets, only 51% had both and therefore met the criteria for basic hygiene services. Furthermore, 1 in 11 (9%) of healthcare facilities globally have neither.

“If health care providers don’t have access to a sanitation service, patients don’t have a health care facility,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF Director for WASH and Climate, Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED). “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, about 670,000 newborns die from sepsis. This is a travesty – especially since their deaths are preventable.”

The report states that contaminated hands and environments play an important role in pathogen transmission in health care facilities and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Interventions to increase access to handwashing with soap and water and environmental sanitation are cornerstones of infection prevention and control programs and are essential for providing quality care, especially for safe childbirth.

The coverage of WASH facilities is still uneven in different regions and income groups:

  • Facilities in sub-Saharan Africa are lagging hygiene services. While three-quarters (73%) of healthcare facilities in the region generally have alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water at the point of care, only one-third (37%) have facilities for handwashing with soap and water. in the toilets. The vast majority (87%) of hospitals have hand hygiene facilities at the point of care, compared to 68% of other healthcare facilities.
  • In less developed countries, only 53% of health care facilities have access to facilities in a protected country. water source. By comparison, the global figure is 78% with hospitals (88%) doing better than smaller healthcare facilities (77%), and the figure for East and Southeast Asia is 90%. Globally, about 3% of health care facilities in urban areas and 11% 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 percentage of health care facilities with no hygiene services 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 services in health care facilities.
  • The data further reveals that many healthcare facilities lack basic environmental sanitation and safe segregation and disposal of healthcare waste.

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

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