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Improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Health Care Facilities
9 April, 2020
The spread of the coronavirus in Africa is gaining momentum, with some few weeks away from reaching overwhelming levels. The big concern is the fragile health system of most of the countries with low levels of human, financial and material resources to control the pandemic. Most of all, the health care facilities of many African countries lack access to basic water, sanitation, and handwashing facilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports indicate the presence of quite a significant number of health care facilities without access to adequate and safe water sources, improved sanitation facilities, and access to soap for handwashing (for more information please visit: (https://apps.who.int).
The lack of WASH in health care facilities during this period of the coronavirus pandemic has a detrimental impact on the health conditions of the health professionals, the patients as well as others visiting the health centres for routine health-related services. Therefore, African governments need to take urgent actions to improve WASH services in health care facilities where there is a lack of the service, or where the service level is below the required standards.
- Carry out a rapid assessment and identify all health care facilities that encounter problems related to the spread of the virus, including water, sanitation and hygiene services.
- Allocate funds from either the national treasury or donors’ grant to cover the costs of improvement of the WASH services.
- Involve all local implementation partners (individual contractors, suppliers, service providers, including water trucking companies) to take roles in the improvement of WASH services in the health care facilities.
- In health care facilities where there exists intermittent or disruption of water supply due to overall shortage in the area, establish a backup system, including installation of additional water tanks and delivery of water through trucks.
- Rehabilitate the toilets/latrines and add handwashing devices in all places within the healthcare facilities that can be easily accessed by the public.
- Rehabilitate existing waste management disposal facilities to avoid contaminations and further aggravate the spread of the virus.
- Trigger the existing health and safety committees or establish new ones where they do not exist.
- Strengthen the technical and logistical capacity of the health and safety committees to play the role of preventing the spread of coronavirus through carrying out education and awareness-raising programmes.
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