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Water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities: Global basic report 2019



The availability of clean water in healthcare facilities is essential for providing quality hygiene

Workers in health care facilities need adequate amounts of safe water to provide healthcare. Drinking and cooking, hand hygiene, shower and bathing and a number of general and specialized medical applications all require safe and reliable water supplies. Water is also important for cleaning rooms, beds, floors, toilets, sheets and laundry. It is central to patient health experiences, as it allows them to remain hydrated, cleanse themselves and reduce the risk of infection. Without water, a health facility is not a health facility. But about 1 in 4 health facilities do not have a groundwater supply, which has an impact on approx. DKK 2 billion People, while 1

in 8 health facilities has no water service, which affects about 894 million. People.

Health facilities without proper sanitation, including toilets and waste disposal, can spread disease instead of preventing them.

Sanitation is a human right. Sanitary services in healthcare facilities are essential to delivering high quality care that improves patient and staff health, welfare, and dignity, and improves health outcomes. Health facilities without proper toilets and waste disposal can spread disease instead of preventing them. Sanitary management of healthcare excretion is particularly important to ensure fecal pathogens do not contaminate the healthcare environment or surrounding areas. But about 1 in 5 health facilities lack a sanitary service. This means that 1.5 billion people come to health centers. There are no toilets at all.

When soap and water are absent, the risk of infection is high

Effective hand hygiene in healthcare facilities has been the cornerstone of infection prevention and control and, today, is considered the primary measure for preventing health-related infections and spreading antimicrobial resistance. Healthcare professionals are the primary target of efforts to improve hand hygiene as they care for more patients and can come in contact with blood and other body fluids. However, healthcare facilities can also spread pathogens on their hands, and it is important that healthcare facilities provide soap and water wash facilities in toilets used by patients as well as other visitors who may adapt to patient needs. Globally, 1 out of 6 health facilities does not have any hygiene, which means they lack hand hygiene facilities where patients receive care as well as soap and water in toilets.

Infectious and hazardous waste in health care facilities is often not properly handled to prevent accidental exposure

The largest waste generated in healthcare facilities – approx. 85% – is not dangerous and can be disposed of with ordinary solid waste. The remaining 15% is either contagious, chemically hazardous or radioactive and should be managed appropriately to prevent accidental exposure to health workers, patients, visitors, waste managers and the public. Used needles and other sharp materials are generally considered to be the most dangerous category of health waste because they can easily cause needle rods and subsequent infection.


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