Around 1.8 billion people are at heightened risk of COVID-19 and other diseases because they use or work in health care facilities without basic water services, warn WHO and UNICEF.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘’Working in a health care facility without water, sanitation and hygiene is akin to sending nurses and doctors to work without personal protective equipment”.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, ‘’Sending healthcare workers and people in need of treatment to facilities without clean water, safe toilets, or even soap puts their lives at risk.”
The situation is worst of all in the world’s 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs): 1 in 2 health care facilities does not have basic drinking water, 1 in 4 health care facilities has no hand hygiene facilities at points of care; and 3 in 5 lack basic sanitation services.
But this can be fixed. The report’s preliminary estimates indicate that it would cost roughly USD 1 per capita to enable all 47 LDCs to establish basic water service in health facilities. On average, USD 0.20 per capita is needed each year to operate and maintain services.
According to the report, immediate, incremental investments in WASH have big returns: improving hygiene in health care facilities is a “best buy” for tackling antimicrobial resistance.