Infection Prevention, Water & hygiene go hand in hand.
This year on World Hand Hygiene Day, we delve into the relationship between Infection Prevention Control (IPC) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)On June 26th, 2020, a joint statement by Henriette Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization launched the joint ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ initiative during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They joined with other international partners, governments, public and private sectors, to develop a roadmap that would support local resources, helping to reduce hygiene gaps and provide affordable services and products to the most disadvantaged countries.
The joint statement advised that during the pandemic, hand hygiene had never been more critical. That to reduce the impact of the virus and prevent future infectious diseases follow along the same path, everyone, in every country should have access to clean water, soap or alcohol based products in their home, schools and healthcare facilities.
At that time one billion people living in least developed countries lacked basic handwashing facilities at home. Schools, healthcare facilities and hospitals in vulnerable areas were also without the products and water services needed to reduce the risk of transmissible infection between children, patients, health workers and teachers.
Two years on and hand hygiene is more relevant than ever and still one of the most effective tools to prevent infection. Effective handwashing with soap and water is the simplest, most basic prevention of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. However, for millions of people, hand hygiene is still beyond their grasp. According to the World Health Organization, 3 in 10 people globally could not wash their hands during COVID-19.
Investing in water and sanitation has been high on the agenda of many organizations for years, and it has been relayed time and again that for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, the economic benefit to individuals and society is $4.30.
Facts from a recent UNICEF/ WHO WASH data report advise that
• One in four healthcare facilities lack basic water1
• One in three facilities lack hand hygiene at the point of care.1
Strengthening WASH in healthcare facilities, helping healthcare workers to put in place infection prevention controls that protect their patients and themselves will lead to a reduction in the one million maternal and neonatal fatalities that occur every year due to lack of hygienic birthing practices.2
To combat outbreaks, antimicrobial resistance and ongoing infections in healthcare, countries need to have effective IPC programmes and functioning WASH services in place. In doing so, hand hygiene and clean birthing rooms could potentially increase newborn survival rates by 44%2
In addition, surface and instrument disinfection protocols for operating rooms in rural healthcare facilities are also critically important. Healthcare associated infections have been found to affect millions of people every year. Click the link to find out about our all in one solution for the complete disinfection requirements of a rural healthcare facility.
Contact us to find out more about our WASH activities, making safe water accessible in the most challenging circumstances and how we ensure the value of water is delivered globally.
2 Glencoe H and Cousens S. Addressing the challenge of neonatal mortality. Trop Med Intern Health 2013; 18: 303–312. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23289419/,