Background and Context:
Access to safe WASH services is not just an output but a critical outcome that significantly improves public health. The importance of having reliable WASH services in healthcare facilities extends beyond infection prevention; it ensures the satisfaction and confidence of patients, particularly women and children. Despite the vital role of hand hygiene in reducing infectious diseases, it has been chronically under-prioritized and lacks sufficient investments from the government and development partners.
WaterAid Ghana's Initiative:
WaterAid Ghana is implementing a project to strengthen WASH and health systems in Wassa-East and Asutifi North Districts. The project aims to accelerate the coverage of reliable WASH in healthcare facilities to promote inclusive and sustainable healthcare delivery in communities. A key objective is to develop an evidence base around WASH in healthcare facilities to inform policy and practice and advocate for the prioritization of WASH access in these facilities.
Overview of WASH in HCF Data Collection:
The study conducted a mixed-method approach, combining participatory, qualitative, and quantitative methods to assess WASH services in 50 operational healthcare facilities across Asutifi North and Wassa East districts. The findings aimed to support evidence-based advocacy and life cycle costing analysis.
1. Water Services:
- About 3.6% and 5.6% of healthcare facilities in Wassa East and Asutifi North Districts, respectively, had no water service.
- The Asutifi North Ahonedie Mpumtuo (ANAM) initiative significantly contributed to the high proportion of health facilities with basic water service in the Asutifi North District.
- 53.6% of healthcare facilities in Wassa-East District lacked basic sanitation services, and 28.7% in Asutifi North District had no basic sanitation service.
- Approximately 10.5% of facilities in Asutifi North and 8.0% in Wassa East had toilet facilities accessible to people with reduced mobility or other impairments.
3. Healthcare Waste Management:
- About 7 in 10 healthcare facilities in Asutifi North had functional waste collection containers, while approximately 4 in 10 had the same in Wassa East.
Participants' Contribution and Comments:
Participants raised concerns about the quality of water supplied to healthcare facilities and emphasized the need for water quality assessments. They also called for intensified user education and sensitization to minimize breakdowns of toilets and handwashing facilities. Advocacy plans were discussed to enhance community collaboration with District Assemblies and health administration for the sustainability of WASH services.
The findings from the assessment underscore the critical need for immediate attention to improve WASH services in healthcare facilities in Ghana. Addressing water, sanitation, and healthcare waste management issues will not only prevent infections but also contribute to the overall improvement of public health. The collaboration between stakeholders, as highlighted in the meeting, is crucial for implementing effective and sustainable solutions. It is imperative for policymakers to heed the call to action, allocate resources, and prioritize WASH in healthcare facilities for the well-being of the Ghanaian population.