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‘Half of world’s healthcare facilities lack basic hygiene’

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 31 August, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Half of the world’s healthcare facilities lack basic hygiene services, putting nearly four billion people at greater risk of infection, the United Nations has said.

These health care facilities worldwide lack basic hygiene services with water and soap or alcohol-based hand rub where patients receive care and at toilets in these facilities, according to the latest Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report by WHO and UNICEF on Tuesday.

Around 3.85 billion people use these facilities, putting them at greater risk of infection, including 688 million people who receive care at facilities with no hygiene services at all.

“Hygiene facilities and practices in health care settings are non-negotiable. Their improvement is essential to pandemic recovery, prevention and preparedness. Hygiene in health care facilities cannot be secured without increasing investments in basic measures, which include safe water, clean toilets, and safely managed health care waste,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health.

“I encourage Member States to step up 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.”

In Bangladesh, only 38 per cent of health care facilities had basic hygiene services, with significant differences between government and non-government facilities: 32 per cent of government facilities had basic hygiene services, compared to 69 per cent of non-government facilities. The report also highlights geographical disparities in Bangladesh. Access to safe water sources in health care facilities is more common in urban areas (90 per cent) than in rural areas (67 per cent).

“If health care providers don’t have access to a hygiene service, patients don’t have a health care facility,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF Director of WASH and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED).

The report notes that contaminated hands and environments play a significant role in pathogen transmission in health care facilities and the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Interventions to increase access to handwashing with water and soap and environmental cleaning form the cornerstone of infection prevention and control programmes and are crucial to providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth.