Fort Portal, Kabarole, UGANDA. 11 November 2020 - IRC Uganda today launches a new project with Kabarole District Local Government to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 through strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities.
IRC has through funding of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supported Kabarole District to achieve universal access to WASH through the Safe Water Strategy since 2018. In March 2020 when Uganda confirmed the first COVID-19 case, both the WASH and healthcare sectors experienced immense pressure as services that were essential in prevention and control of the spread of the infection were limited. IRC responded through support to Kabarole District Health Office with various interventions including emergency provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers; improvement of sanitation and hand hygiene facilities in health centres, provision of drinking water kits to healthcare facilities and Infection Prevention and Control mentorships, among others.
"The pandemic has made obvious what we knew all along: that water, sanitation and hygiene are the first line of defence against many infections. As we embrace the new normal, full coverage of WASH services in all institutions is a must, starting with healthcare facilities" – Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, Country Director IRC Uganda.
The one-year project implemented with USD154,000 funding from the Conrad Hilton Foundation will deliver long-term interventions in infection prevention and control including COVID-19, through strengthening the district healthcare system and modelling comprehensive WASH in healthcare services.
"This partnership between IRC and Kabarole District is in line with IRC's goal to strengthen district capacities to provide lasting WASH services for all," says Ms. Mulumba. "We are making a deliberate statement that while COVID-19 has hit us hard, future resilience and sustainability of healthcare service delivery can only be guaranteed by good governance and management of water sanitation and hygiene services in healthcare facilities."
Kabarole District will with this funding increase awareness about COVID-19 prevention and response efforts through risk communications and hygiene promotion; strengthen protection and safety of healthcare workers through provision of PPE and mentorship in infection and prevention control; and articulate standard WASH governance and management of healthcare facilities through model healthcare centres. The funding will also support capacity strengthening of the district health teams and healthcare workers for sustained WASH engagement and behaviour change.