Working together towards better WASH services in health-care facilities

WHO/Valentina Grossi

A meeting to promote progressive implementation of global and regional commitments and the prioritization of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health-care facilities in national policy agendas, took place in Bonn, Germany, on 27–28 September 2017. The meeting was attended by 44 delegates from 21 Member States, WHO experts from several offices, as well as academia, nongovernmental and donor organizations covering a broad range of expertise.

Adequate WASH services in health-care facilities are essential for achieving universal and equitable access to WASH for all. Ensuring quality of health care, preventing and controlling infections, tackling anti-microbial resistance and improving the environmental sustainability of health systems all rely on safe management of WASH services in health-care facilities.

Call for a Global Action Plan on WASH in health-care facilities

The meeting is the first of its kind in the WHO European Region and aims to review the current situation of WASH in health-care facilities in countries. Participants discussed the WHO/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Global Action Plan and the indicators on WASH in health-care facilities set by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, which they welcomed as tools to tackle challenges and achieve progress in the Region.

WASH in health-care facilities is a priority area under the Protocol on Water and Health and is reflected in the compendium of possible actions annexed to the Ostrava Declaration on Environment and Health. Improving and maintaining WASH services in health-care facilities is also a building block in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 6 on water and sanitation and SDG 3 on health. Capitalizing on the synergies of the Global Action Plan with the Protocol, Ostrava Declaration and SDGs, participants agreed on the need to scale up recommended action to improve WASH in health-care facilities at the national level.

The meeting in Bonn was primarily funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.