Access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene is a basic human right and is critical in healthcare facilities (HCFs). The absence of basic water and sanitation services in HCFs compromises healthcare workers’ ability to provide effective healthcare, as it puts both them and patients at a greater risk of infection and illness. However, one in four healthcare facilities worldwide does not have basic water services, threatening the health and safety of billions. Recognizing this, Chemonics joined other leading international development organizations, U.S. government agencies, and philanthropists in committing to achieve universal coverage of WASH in HCFs by 2030.
Global Water 2020 and the Global Health Council organized the June 19 stakeholder commitment event Resolving a Fundamental Challenge in Global Health to recognize commitments and highlight key action points to galvanize the movement for WASH in HCF. The day began with Chemonics and other partners sharing organizational pledges, followed by an afternoon networking session aimed to facilitate new partnership opportunities across sectors.
Leading agencies such as USAID and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pledged to incorporate WASH in HCFs in policy frameworks and strategies and to contribute to capacity building by developing guidance documents.
“WASH in healthcare facilities is essential to keep health workers safe, motivated, and high-performing, and to ensure high-quality healthcare services,” says USAID HRH2030 Technical Director Rachel Deussom. “It is a missing link for promoting maternal and child health and a best-buy for global health security. There are opportunities to harness the role of communities — such as local health committees — for a ‘whole-of-system’ approach to deliver WASH to the most underserved clinics.”
A full list of the commitments from all participants will be available online.
Chemonics has pledged to integrate WASH in HCFs across its diverse areas of practices, including health; water, energy, and sustainable cities; gender equality and social inclusion; and education. Specific commitments include:
- To consider ways to integrate WASH in HCFs in annual global health project activity workplans
- To advocate for WASH in HCFs at external events and within the countries where Chemonics works
- To make the case for future funding for Health and WASH grants
This initiative builds on Chemonics’ history of supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, including ensuring access to water and sanitation for all, through thought leadership and high-quality service delivery. Chemonics addresses global WASH challenges from incorporating WASH in HCFs by increasing access to safe, sustainable drinking water and sanitation services across southern Africa with the Resilient Waters project. After results of the 2018/2019 U.N.-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water indicated a serious need for sanitation improvement in Botswana, Resilient Waters partnered with the Botswanan government to develop its National Sanitation Roadmap.
Achieving universal WASH in HCFs requires commitment across many sectors and practice areas, including strengthening infrastructure, providing training, and addressing waste management. In Bangladesh, Chemonics is providing infection prevention training that includes basic WASH components to healthcare workers in almost 370 health clinics through the USAID Advancing Universal Health Coverage Activity. Meanwhile in Benin and Haiti, we are strengthening in-country capacity to manage pharmaceutical waste as part of USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain Technical Assistance (GHSC-TA) Francophone Task Order. Pharmaceutical waste is particularly concerning as improper disposal can lead to toxic substances reaching local surface water or groundwater. In Benin, the GHSC-TA Francophone Task Order strengthened the capacity of an in-country organization to dispose of 118 tons of seized counterfeit medicines, ensuring compliance with international standards. In Haiti, the project assists HCFs with the appropriate decontamination and disposal of unusable and obsolete medical and laboratory equipment. The project also supports the Ministry of Health in developing a national strategic plan by quantifying the amount of pharmaceutical waste generated by HCFs as well as developing standard operating procedures and training materials for the adequate management of pharmaceutical waste.
The WASH in HCFs commitments highlight Chemonics’ dedication to applying lessons learned across diverse projects to deliver results.
“This convening provides the opportunity to take what we’ve learned from projects across sectors from health to education to supply chain management and apply it to WASH in HCF,” said Chemonics President and CEO Susanna Mudge. “We are a learning organization. Each new project we take on is informed by our previous successes and failures. Tackling WASH in HCF will be no different, and as we progress, we are committed to sharing and learning from our fellow stakeholders.”
By integrating WASH in HCFs in the countries in which we work, we are better able to fulfill our mission to promote meaningful change around the world to help people live healthier, more productive, and more independent lives.