WaterAid calls on FG to prioritise hygiene in healthcare facilities

Says 17% of healthcare centres lack access to water source

As 26% don’t have access to toilets

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

An international not-for-profit organization, WaterAid Nigeria, Wednesday, called on the Federal Government to prioritise hygiene in healthcare facilities across the country as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan.

This was contained in a statement from the organization, where it specifically called on the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to expedite action to safeguard healthcare facilities.

The statement also explained why the call was made now, which is because health ministers from around the world are preparing to attend the World Health Assembly meeting as a result to international struggles to bring deadly coronavirus under control.

The statement reads in part, “WaterAid Nigeria is calling for the country’s Minister of Health, Honourable Dr Osagie Ehanire,to prioritise basic hygiene for health care facilities as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan. The demand comes as health ministers from around the world prepare to attend the World Health Assembly, against a backdrop of international struggles to bring the virus under control.”

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The statement also pointed that, “Two years ago the World Health Assembly’s 194 members unanimously agreed to ensure universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in all hospitals and other health facilities – since then the pandemic has highlighted just how vital these basic services are in controlling the infection.

“Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, has described soap and water as akin to personal protective equipment and absolutely fundamental for stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

However, the statement revealed that “However, in Nigeria, about 17% of healthcare centres lack do not have access to a water source, and four in five healthcare facilities (80%) still lacks somewhere to wash hands with soap to protect patients and healthcare workers from catching and spreading deadly infections. In the world’s poorest countries, half of all hospitals and clinics have no clean water on site.

“When the World Health Assembly delegations last met in person, they passed a resolution to ensure that all healthcare facilities had water, sanitation, and hygiene. And yet, the data shows that across the world almost 2 billion people depend on healthcare facilities without basic water services, putting them at greater risk of catching COVID-19 and other deadly diseases.

“One in four healthcare facilities globally is still without clean water on-site, one in three still has nowhere to wash hands where patients are treated and one in ten still lacks decent toilets.”

According to the statement 26 per cent of healthcare facilities in Nigeria do not have access to toilets.

“The resolution has not translated to realistic actions in Nigeria either. National data shows that 26% of healthcare facilities do not have access to toilets on-site and only 4% of healthcare facilities in Nigeria have access to combined water, sanitation, and hygiene services”, it pointed.

Also according to the statement, “Last December, the WHO estimated that to bring clean water, handwashing facilities and decent toilets to the health care centres in the poorest countries would cost just $3.6 billion – which equates to around an hour and a half’s worth of what the whole world spent in a year on the Covid-19 response.

“Furthermore, research has shown that money spent on the water, sanitation, and hygiene within healthcare is a ‘best buy’ for any country, producing a 50 per cent return on investment. It helps to: slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance – so-called Superbugs;       prevent the spread of hospital infections; and reduce maternal and newborn deaths.

“Sustainable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene is a cost-effective measure that guarantees the fight against COVID-19 and future pandemics. This realises lasting health outcomes in Nigeria, enabling people to reach their full potential.”

Meanwhile, the Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere, said: “Two years ago, at the World Health Assembly, global leaders resolved to prioritise water, sanitation, and hygiene in all healthcare facilities. Now is the time for them to make good on those promises.

“Millions of people are at risk of contracting diseases because they use or work in a healthcare facility which lacks basic water services. In the twenty-first century, this simply shouldn’t be and needn’t be the case. The cost of investing to ensure every health centre and hospital in the poorest countries has a reliable water supply, working toilets, and good hygiene may seem high but the benefits of such an investment far outweigh the cost.

“Trying to create a robust pandemic preparedness and response plan without ensuring that every health care centre has clean water and the ability to keep its patients, front-line health workers and premises clean is like building a fortress with a gaping hole where the door should be. Unless leaders wake up to this, more lives will be needlessly lost.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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