- WASH is an acronym that stands for “water, sanitation and hygiene”.
- Universal, affordable and sustainable access to WASH is a key public health issue within international development and is the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6).
- SDG 6 aims at equitable and accessible water and sanitation for all, with Target 6.2 specifically mentioning women and girls.
- Access to WASH includes safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene education. This can reduce illness and death, and also reduce poverty and improve socio-economic development.
- In 2015, for the first time, WHO and UNICEF assessed the status of WASH in health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries.
- With a significant proportion of facilities without any services at all, WHO, UNICEF and partners committed at a global meeting to address the situation, with the aim of achieving universal access in all facilities, in all settings, by 2030.
- A global action plan with five change objectives was developed in March 2015. In the first phase of this work, four task teams (comprised of health and WASH specialists) are working to address five change objectives and produce tangible deliverables.
Recent report on WASH Services (WASH Program )
- The WHO/UNICEF JMP report, WASH in Health Care Facilities, is the first comprehensive global assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities.
- It outlines that, WASH services in many facilities across the world are missing or substandard.
- It finds that 1 in 8 health care facilities has no water service and 1 in 5 has no sanitation service – impacting close to 900 million and more than 1.5 billion people, respectively.
- One in every six healthcare facilities was estimated to have no hygiene service (meaning it lacked hand hygiene facilities at points of care, as well as soap and water at toilets), while data on waste management and environmental cleaning was inadequate across the board.
The WHO WASH Strategy Principles (WASH Program )
- Prioritize actions with the highest public health benefit in areas where WHO has or can build comparative advantages.
- Strengthen health sector capacities in promoting safe WASH and taking up its public health oversight role in WASH, including effective outbreak response systems.
- Align with the SDGs, specifically targets relating to WASH, health, climate change and nutrition, as well as human rights principles.
- Employ the highest quality science including through collection, review and use of evidence about WASH impacts on health and a full range of practical experiences when developing norms and good practice procedures.
- Promote a contextual, incremental improvement approach when supporting countries to set national WASH standards and ambitious but achievable national targets.
- Capitalize on existing regional policy frameworks that promote WASH and stipulate national target setting.
- Stimulate sustainable change by strengthening government institutions and systems charged with implementation, oversight and regulation of WASH service delivery.
- Engage with partners and positively influence partnerships to ensure health issues are considered and addressed by the WASH sector and to also ensure that WASH issues, notably in health care facilities.
WHO- And UNICEF-Recommended Practical Steps To Be Implement
- Across the region, and the world, a lack of quality baseline data limits authorities’ understanding of the problem.
- First, health authorities should conduct in-depth assessments and establish national standards and accountability mechanisms.
- There is need of national road-maps to improve WASH services are developed, health authorities should create clear and measurable benchmarks that can be used to improve and maintain infrastructure and ensure that facilities are ‘fit to serve’.
- All UN agencies, Member States, and partners are now being asked to invest more in this critical component for health and wellbeing.
Key WHO Partners and Stakeholders for WASH
- Practitioners: Water suppliers, sanitation service providers, wastewater management entities.
- Member States: National and local government agencies with responsibilities for policies and programmes in public health, drinking-water supply, sanitation and wastewater management, water resources development and management, environmental.
- WASH sector partners: For example, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other UN agencies participating in UN-Water etc.
- Institutions for research and development: Scientists organized in expert advisory panels, academia, research groups and WHO Collaborating Centres.
- External support agencies (ESAs): For example, The World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation etc
- Health sector partners: For example, global level partners such as the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), AMR Global Action Plan, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) networks, infection prevention and control (IPC) practitioners including the Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN).
WASH and Emerging Issues (WASH Program )
WASH and climate change
- Change objectives:
- Intersectoral planning and collaboration facilitated at all levels.
- Strengthened evidence based on linkages between the impacts posed by climate change to health via WASH and effective coordination mechanisms, and guidance developed.
- Climate change considerations included in relevant WASH monitoring systems at all levels.
- Climate variability and change considerations included in relevant WASH risk assessment and management approaches.
- Problem Statement/Opportunity:
- Unique role and added value of WHO:
- An increasing number of water and sanitation systems will become vulnerable to climate change.
- The Strategy informs action by WHO at all levels as well as by ministries of health and ministries responsible for the delivery of WASH programmes, meteorological services, and climate change and WASH programme managers at all levels.
- The implementation of the WHO WASH Strategy will strengthen integration of climate change considerations into WASH risk assessment and programming.
- It also informs the actions of development agencies addressing WASH and climate change, including donors, NGOs and other UN agencies.
Water Resources And Health
- Problem Statement/Opportunity:
- Significant progress has been made in the prevention and control of some of these diseases through strengthening of case detection and treatment, a combination of drug treatment, vector control and the development and delivery of vaccines.
- Water-associated vector-borne diseases continue to be a major public health problem in many countries including malaria and many of the NTDs.
- The diversity in the ecology and biology of disease vectors requires evidence-based assessments of local situations where water resources development is taking place. This is important under conditions of rapid change in hydrology and aquatic ecosystems.
- The broadened scope on water in the SDG framework creates an opportunity for WHO’s WASH programme to revitalize efforts to deal with water-associated vector-borne diseases in a sustainable manner.
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