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WHO decries lack of basic water services in healthcare facilities

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As the 2021 World Hand Hygiene Day is celebrated, the World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, warned that lack of financial resources and crumbling infrastructure have led to rise in poor hygiene and infection control practices.

The 2020 WHO Global progress report on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities revealed that globally, one in every four health care facilities do not have basic water services and one in every three lack hand hygiene supplies at the point of care.

The report highlights the urgent need to reduce inequalities in the availability of good hand hygiene and other infection-prevention and control measures between high and lower income countries. A new WHO online monitoring portal will help countries identify and address gaps.

According to the WHO report, this is a serious challenge at any time, but COVID-19 has dramatically demonstrated just how important good hand hygiene practices are in reducing the risk of transmission, when used as part of a comprehensive package of preventative measures.

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The report noted that good hand hygiene is also vital in preventing any infections acquired in health care, the spread of antimicrobial resistance and other emerging health threats.

The global health body stated that infection acquired during health care delivery is a major global health problem, but patients in low-income and middle-income countries are twice as likely to experience this as patients in high-income countries and the risk in intensive care units (ICU), especially among newborns, is between two and 20 times higher.

“One reason for this is that in some low-income countries, only one in 10 health workers practices proper hand hygiene while caring for patients at high risk of health care-associated infections in ICU – often because they simply do not have the facilities to do so,” WHO said.

The global organisation has also declared 2021 the “Year of the Health and Care Worker”.

To protect these vital workers, evidence has shown that appropriate hand hygiene practices reduce infections during care delivery. So, engaging different health professionals, as well as patients and everyone in the society in the World Hand Hygiene Day is critical also to supporting the “Year of Health and Care Workers”.

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