Report reveals alarming lack of water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities

March 23, 2015

The World Health Organization and UNICEF have commissioned the first comprehensive, multi-country analysis on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services in health care facilities, calling for global action to push toward 100 percent coverage of these services through new policies, collaboration, monitoring and training.

The report, released March 17, evaluated available WaSH data from 66,101 health-care facilities in 54 low- and middle-income countries and found that 38 percent of those facilities lack an improved source, 19 percent lack improved sanitation, and 35 percent lack soap for hand washing - situations that impede even basic health-care services such as child delivery.

The report's authors are Jamie Bartram, director of The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering, and Ryan Cronk, doctoral student in environmental sciences and engineering.

"It is shameful that there are health care facilities failing to provide a safe environment, compromising the health of those who turn to them for care," Bartram said. "We need health-care professionals—from the in charge of the smallest health post to the CEO of the most sophisticated hospital—to take responsibility for delivering on the medical maxim 'first do no harm.'"

Lack of water, sanitation and hygiene services in causes infection risk within the very institutions to which patients have come to expect healing. Without WaSH services, patients are put at risk of infection unnecessarily and often have to exit the facility to obtain a drink of water or to relieve themselves. Furthermore, staff members lose an important opportunity to demonstrate safe sanitation and hygiene practices that can improve community habits and health.

Improvements to services can and should begin immediately, the report said, and will require leadership from the sector, technical advice from water and sanitation experts, and political commitment from governments.

Explore further: Study calls for new global standard for safe drinking water and sanitation

More information: The report is available online at www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/en

Related Stories

Study calls for new global standard for safe drinking water and sanitation

January 20, 2015
A new study conducted jointly by The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine calls for a new global standard for improvements in household drinking ...

A matter of birth and death: Unsafe conditions still killing new mothers and newborns

December 12, 2014
WaterAid and the London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine today join the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, SHARE Research Consortium and other organisations in a call to protect the lives of new mothers and their ...

Hospitalized patients don't wash their hands enough, study finds

October 7, 2014
Hospital visitors and staff are greeted with hand sanitizer dispensers in the lobby, by the elevators and outside rooms as reminders to wash their hands to stop infections, but just how clean are patients' hands?

Hand hygiene lacking in many U.S. health care facilities: study

February 28, 2014
(HealthDay)—One in five U.S. health care facilities does not make alcohol-based hand sanitizer available everywhere it's needed, new research shows.

WHO program improves U.S. medical facility hand hygiene

March 5, 2014
(HealthDay)—For U.S. health care facilities, participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) global campaign to improve hand hygiene practices is associated with improved hand hygiene, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Gulf spill oil dispersants associated with health symptoms in cleanup workers

September 19, 2017
Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists ...

Study suggests link between youth football and later-life emotional, behavioral impairment

September 19, 2017
A new study has found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

Self-confidence affected by teammates, study finds

September 19, 2017
A person's confidence in their own ability varies significantly depending on who is in their team, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

Today's US teens about three years behind '70s generation

September 19, 2017
Teenagers in America today are about three years behind their counterparts from the 1970s when it comes to taking up sex, drinking alcohol and working for pay, researchers said Tuesday.

Video game boosts sex health IQ and attitudes in minority teens

September 18, 2017
A videogame designed by Yale researchers to promote health and reduce risky behavior in teens improves sexual health knowledge and attitudes among minority youth, according to a new study. The findings validate the value ...

Two Americas: Seniors are getting healthier but most gains go to high-income whites

September 18, 2017
Older Americans report feeling dramatically healthier than they did 14 years ago but that good health isn't evenly distributed, with much of the gain going to the wealthiest, most highly educated and whites.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.