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Healthcare at risk of disease epicenters

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By Timothy Akintola

Lack of access to WASH services ravages Nigeria’s healthcare facilities.

The Federal Government of Nigeria have complained about the advent of numerous healthcare centers being at risk of diseases as a result of the lack of access to water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, posed to put the lives of the occupants of the healthcare centers including the doctors, nurses, patients and other caregivers at risk. Dr. Osagie Enihare, the Minister for Health, during the launch of the National Guidelines for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in Healthcare Facilities (HCF) which took place in Abuja, noted that WASH is multi-sectoral and while the Federal Ministry of Health was ensuring WASH services within healthcare facilities, there was a need for continuous collaborations among the sector for attainment of the best global practices.

The Minister further stated that for a coordinated approach to the WASH services and effective utilization of the advantages of the services in Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) of diseases within healthcare facilities in the country, there was a pivotal need for the wide circulation and dissemination of the guidelines, so as to be duly implemented by stakeholders. Talking about WASH services, he explained that it was a strategy put in place to ensure adequacy in the supply of water, Sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities to salvage WASH related issues.

WASH system, a mandatory part of the Infection, Prevention and Control.

Safe hygiene, Sanitation and water are very important to the health status quo and general well-being of every individual and as such, ensuring safe WASH is not a prerequisite to just health, but the general welfarism of every human being, as it contributes to their general livelihoods. Enihare explained WASH services to be a very important task in the prevention of infections and promotion of healthy living in the healthcare facilities. He noted that the WASH services have been recognized as an effective system for preventing and controlling diseases, especially epidemic-prone ones.

Dr. Osagie Enihare further stated the WASH system, as a mandatory part of the Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) for the general public and caregivers, must effectively provide a break in the chain of disease transmission, which will in turn lead to a reduced morbidity rate, as well as mortality that may ensue from these infections. Thus, there has been an essentialism of WASH services since the ensuing of COVID-19 and other emerging Viral Hemorrhage Fevers (VHFs) within the functionality of the local, state and federal Public Health agencies.

HCFs to witness ill-equipped management of HAI with lack of access to WASH.

The WASH strategy is posed to imminently reduce the case management burdens for infectious diseases, as well as helping health decision-makers to efficiently prevent and contain the outbreak of these diseases. Healthcare centers with inefficient access to safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are bound to witness an ill equipped management of Health Associated Infections (HAIs) like COVID-19, leaving even the most vulnerable people to face these epidemics without any form of healthy defense.

Dr. Osagie however asserted that without adequate WASH services in Nigeria’s healthcare facilities, it would be near impossible to achieve safe water, Sanitation and hygiene which are Sustainable Development goals. He also noted the WASH system is an important part of the Clean Water: Use the Toilet Campaign that rallies for safe water and at that, healthcare facilities in both rural and urban environments must have functioning toilet facilities, for the attainment of the Sanitation/open-defecation/" target="_blank">Open Defecation Free (ODF).

National Guideline to ensure WASH improvement among HCFs.

Also, Mamman Mamouda, the Permanent Secretary explained that the enactment of the national guidelines, as conceived by the Federal Ministry of Health in 2019, in collaboration with other technical committees in the WASH sector like NCDC, UNICEF, and WHO, was one of the Federal Government’s means of ensuring an improvement in WASH services among the healthcare facilities in Nigeria, after the President in 2018, declared a State of Emergency in the WASH sector. He stated that although there was an existence of hygiene and Sanitation document, there was no comprehensive general guideline to ensure the provision of WASH services in these healthcare facilities.

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