An appeal for more funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities in Uganda.
People go to healthcare facilities to be treated for illnesses, but they can also fall ill there because of healthcare associated infections. Both patients and health workers are at risk when exposed to unhygienic surroundings, poor sanitation, improper disposal of medical equipment and contaminated water. In Kabarole District in Uganda, healthcare facilities are facing all these challenges. A 2019 assessment report of 40 healthcare facilities brings up the sad figures:
IRC has together with the help of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation started with interventions to improve the situation in 30 government healthcare facilities. They are focusing on sanitation, hand hygiene and access to safe drinking water. Renovation of latrines is being done by the Hand Pump Mechanics Association so that they meet the WHO standards. To improve hygiene standards IRC, Centers for Disease Control and Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) have distributed hand sanitisers to all healthcare facilities in Kabarole. This made them well prepared for COVID-19. However, still a lot remains to be done.
IRC Uganda Country Director Jane Nabunnya Mulumba appeals to the Ministry of Health to recruit and to retain more staffing for healthcare facilities. And to budget for it! She is also appealing to both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water and the Environment to increase access to water for all patients.
Catherine Kemigabo, District Health Educator, Kabarole, is calling upon partners such as IRC, IDI and others to join hands and upgrade facilities and make them user friendly.
Finally, Martin Watsisi, IRC WASH Expert in Kabarole, says special attention needs to be given to WASH in healthcare facilities. It is not business as usual.