Giving Compass' Take:
- Blessing Sani discusses the importance of integrating WASH systems into healthcare facilities and quality care planning to address maternal and childcare health adequately.
- Achieving sustainable integration of WASH systems will require reliable and engaged partnerships from local governments as well as effective policies. How can donors help make this a reality?
- Learn about these WASH tools for donors.
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As the world accelerates progress toward quality healthcare, governments must prioritize increased access to inclusive and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities.
Clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene help to control and prevent diseases and their spread. They protect health workers and patients and allow the delivery of quality health care services. Sadly, these normal things are the forgotten foundations for good health. The impact on women and children is alarming – estimates are that one in five births globally takes place in least-developed countries and, each year, 17 million women in these countries give birth in health centers with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene.
Globally, an estimated 896 million people use healthcare facilities with no water service, and one in five facilities has no sanitation service, impacting 1.5 billion people.2 Diseases like Ebola, Lassa Fever and cholera spread fastest when these services are lacking. This cycle ensures improvements in health are not sustainable. Often times, the dire consequences are manifested in ill health, deaths, economic losses and a lifetime legacy of disease and poverty.
In 2017, Nigeria launched a scheme to revitalize 10,000 primary healthcare centers across the country to make quality and affordable healthcare accessible to the poor and vulnerable. This commitment presented a window to integrate inclusive and sustainable WASH services into the program plans and design. However, despite this and other efforts around improving maternal and child health and nutrition, achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage requires increased political commitment, practical policies, strong coordination and partnerships, financing and preventive interventions.
There’s need for better coordination, collaboration and integration between WASH and health actors based on the recognition that WASH underpins quality health outcomes.
Read the full article about integrating WASH in health outcomes by Blessing Sani at Save the Children.