A study on the cost of ensuring “WASH” in healthcare facilities

What is the News?

A study was conducted to estimate the cost of ensuring WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in healthcare facilities for one year across India. The study was published in  BMJ Global Health journal.

What is WASH?

  • The term “WASH in health care facilities” refers to the provision of water, sanitation, health care waste management, hygiene and environmental cleaning infrastructure, and services across all parts of a facility.

Key Findings of the study:

  • The study estimates that improving WASH across the public healthcare facilities in India and maintaining this for a year would cost $354 million in capital costs. Further, it will need $289 millions as a recurrent expense (all payments other than for capital expenses like maintenance, electricity, rent, etc).
  • The most costly interventions were providing clean water, linen reprocessing, and sanitation. Similarly, the least expensive were hand hygiene, medical device reprocessing, and environmental surface cleaning.

Impact  of  Poor WASH Facilities:

  • A 2019 joint global baseline report by WHO and UNICEF had pointed out that globally, one in four healthcare facilities lacked basic water servicing. Further, one in five health care facilities had no sanitation service and 42% had no hygiene facilities.

Significance of providing WASH facilities:

  • WASH will reduce deaths: Approximately, the death of 3 lakh children under five years can be prevented each year.
  • Achieving SDGs: The status of WASH in healthcare facilities is an important issue in development. Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation is one of the 2030 sustainable development goals.
  • Infection prevention and control: The WASH interventions can help reduce healthcare-associated infections. Especially among the mother and neonates across the Indian healthcare system.
  • Cost-effective intervention: In 2012, the WHO report calculated ‘For every dollar invested in sanitation, there will be a $5.50 gain’. This will be in the form of lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths, etc.

Source: The Hindu

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