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WASH in health

Water, sanitation, hygiene and health

Access to clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene are essential to public health.

A WASH response is a health response. A health response is a WASH response.

WASH and health Four facts about health and water

The global pandemic has shone a light on the tireless commitment of nurses, and the challenging conditions they navigate. Every day, around the world, they save lives, improve access to healthcare, educate people and find innovative solutions to local problems. Their work is achieving change in poverty, inequality, and the global Sustainable Development Goals. On International Nurses Day May 12 we honoured them with our video here.

But, how can they do their job without access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities? No place to wash their hands, no water for cleaning, no toilets for them or their patients. And that is just the hardware.

  1. 1 in 4 health care facilities (HCFs) lack access to basic water services – an issue that impacts 1.8 billion people. 
  2. Infection prevention and control (IPC) is not possible without access to a continuous supply of safe water, sanitation and hygiene services. Without it, disease spreads, healthcare workers and patients get ill and people die.
  3. As we've seen during Covid, washing hands prevents the spread of dangerous antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. The WHO has declared that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top 10 global public health and development threats facing humanity, and that it requires urgent multisectoral action in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  4. Safe water, sanitation and hygiene services are essential in primary health care; and for human rights, dignity, gender rights and social justice.

Source: The Issue - Wash in Health Care Facilities

What can you do?

Progress is being made. In 2019 the World Health Assembly passed a resolution on water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities that asked Ministries of Health and the broader health community to make this a priority. But it needs all of us, working together, to stop nurses from having to work in dangerous conditions and make sure healthcare facilities have access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

You can help by doing two things:

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