Half of Health Care Facilities Globally Lack Hygiene Basics – CMM

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The new estimate reveals the worldwide risk of disease spread to patients and health care workers.
A recent Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that slightly more than half of the world’s health care facilities lack extremely basic hygiene services—specifically soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
About 3.85 billion people use these facilities, including 688 million people who receive care at facilities with no hygiene services at all.
Updated every two years, the current report established, for the first time, a global baseline for WASH services, as more countries than ever reported on the WASH conditions of their hospitals and other health care centers. Hygiene data is now available for 40 countries, up from 21 countries in 2020, which represents 35% of the world’s population.
The analysis found that 68% of health care facilities had hygiene facilities at points of care, and 65% had handwashing facilities with water and soap at toilets, but only 51% had both, which was necessary to meet the report’s criteria for basic hygiene services. Furthermore, 1 in 11 health care facilities (9%) had neither.
“Hygiene facilities and practices in health care settings are non-negotiable,” said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health. “Their improvement is essential to pandemic recovery, prevention, and preparedness. Hygiene in health care facilities cannot be secured without increasing investments in basic measures, which include safe water, clean toilets, and safely managed health care waste.”
As the report notes, contaminated hands and environments play a significant role in pathogen transmission in health care facilities. Interventions to increase access to handwashing with water and soap and environmental cleaning are crucial to providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth.
“Hospitals and clinics without safe water and basic hygiene and sanitation services are a potential death trap for pregnant mothers, newborns, and children,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF director of WASH and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED). “Every year, around 670,000 newborns lose their lives to sepsis. This is a travesty—even more so as their deaths are preventable.”
The report further estimated that universal basic WASH services in health care facilities could be achieved in 46 least-developed countries by 2030 for less than US$10 billion, which represents additional expenditures of less than $1 per person per year.
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As International Housekeepers and Environmental Services Week 2022 gets into full swing, several organizations have shared their specific efforts to honor housekeeping and environmental services (EVS) workers.
According to Hospitality Technology, Canary Technologies, a hotel industry software company, is rewarding housekeepers at all properties utilizing its Digital Tipping solution by matching up to US$100,000 in digital tips received during the week.
Another hotel technology company, Optii Solutions, is giving away pizza parties to five housekeeping teams who are nominated by their peers and management. Winners are being selected randomly—one each business day through Friday—and are being announced on Optii’s LinkedIn profile. All hotel properties, including those not using Optii products, are eligible to participate using the company’s online form.
Optii Solutions CEO Katherine Grass noted, “Many of our employees are former housekeepers, so we feel a high degree of solidarity with this side of hotel operations. While there’s no end to what these teams deserve, we hope our small efforts shine a light on the importance and dedication of hotel housekeeping teams.”
Marshall University, a public research university in Huntington, West Virginia, recruited volunteers to work side by side with its housekeeping, groundskeeping, and sustainability staff during the week as a shadowing opportunity. On Thursday, all crew members and volunteers can enjoy a free lunch with music, games, and giveaways, including a gift bag with free tickets to an upcoming Marshall University home football game.
“We recognize this event every year because we truly have unsung heroes who keep our campus clean, beautiful, and moving forward in sustainability efforts,” said Brandi Jacobs-Jones, senior vice president for operations at the university. “It’s important for us all to join together to honor those who work hard year-round to make our campus shine.”
It’s not too late to implement ways to honor your own housekeepers and EVS workers. Check out our recent article for more celebratory ideas.
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