In the poorest countries, about half of facilities have no basic water services, putting birthing mothers and new-borns in particular danger, according to new data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“Fifteen percent of people who go to a health care facility get an infection and 1 million die due to unclean birth,” WHO public heath coordinator Bruce Gordon said, adding that those risks and threats are “a collective failure of the health system.”
Good water and sanitation services, including the safe disposal of health care waste, are crucial to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
UNICEF data specialist, Tom Slaymaker said, “The data that we have shared that 1 in 5 health care facilities had no sanitation services at all. That means people are relying on health care facilities without any kind of improved toilet. Now, sick people shed a lot more pathogens in their faeces and without toilets, staff, patients – this includes mothers and babies – are at a much greater risk of disease caused and spread through human waste.”
The data showed that countries in West Africa had some of the lowest rates of access to water and sanitation.
“Seventeen million women in the world’s poorest countries are giving birth in health care facilities with inadequate WASH (Water, sanitation and hygiene) every year,” Slaymaker said.