Hospital hygiene leaves much to be desired

05 April 2019 | Health

The poor hygiene at Namibian hospitals, which has made news headlines over the years, has once again been highlighted in a World Health Organisation (WHO) report.

The report by the WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) is the first comprehensive global assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities. The report states that many Namibian health centres lack basic facilities for hand washing and safe segregation and disposal of medical waste. These factors are crucial in preventing infection and providing quality healthcare.

The study found that there was either no information, or very little information, available about water supply, sanitation and hygiene at Namibian healthcare facilities.

The report estimates that at least 5% of Namibian health facilities had no water in 2016, 10% did not have proper sanitation, and at least 20% lacked hand-washing facilities at points of care. There was no data available on which hospitals had sewer connections. According to the report there was insufficient data available on the proportion of healthcare facilities in Namibia that had basic waste-management services.

It is estimated that only 68% of healthcare facilities in Namibia practise safe segregation of medical waste. No information was available on the safe disposal of medical waste in the country. The report says one in four healthcare facilities around the world lacks basic water services and that this affects more than two billion people. It also found that one in five healthcare facilities has no sanitation service, affecting 1.5 billion people. The report emphasises that workers in healthcare facilities need sufficient quantities of clean water to provide quality care. Furthermore, sanitation services in healthcare facilities are essential to deliver high-quality care that improves the health, welfare and dignity of patients and staff. The report says hospital staff should have dedicated toilets to reduce the risk of infection, particularly during outbreaks.

There should be separate toilets for men and women, allowing them privacy when using the toilet.

Toilets for women should also provide facilities for menstrual hygiene management. In addition, toilets should be available for patients with limited mobility. The WHO and Unicef, through their Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP), have produced regular updates on water, sanitation and hygiene since 1990.

The JMP tracked progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is now monitoring global progress towards the WASH-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Targets.



ELLANIE SMIT

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