As the world marks Global Handwashing Day (GHD) and highlights the importance of handwashing with soap under running water today, the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) called on the government to address the Inadequate WASH in Healthcare facilities.
According to the Coalition the current situation presents a major challenge to quality healthcare delivery in Ghana as the country’s health facilities are working day and night to support the sick, especially during this COVID 19 pandemic.
CONIWAS in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary again pressed upon the government to prioritize the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene services to health facilities, especially those in our small towns and communities who are not connected to the national water systems.
The Global Hand Washing Day is celebrated to bring awareness and understanding about the vital importance of handwashing with soap as the most effective, and affordable way to prevent the spread of illnesses and save lives.
The theme for this year’s GHD commemoration is “Hand Hygiene for All”. It highlights the importance of handwashing especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as the most effective method to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hand washing with soap prevents many common and life threatening illnesses by removing the bacteria or viruses that would have entered the body to cause these illnesses.
According to the United Nations (2017), each year, approximately 525,000 children die from diarrheal diseases, making it one of the top killers of children globally. Yet, most of these diarrhea cases in children are caused by infections, which means that most of the deaths are entirely preventable through the simple act of handwashing with soap.
In developing countries like Ghana more than three in ten healthcare facilities, and eight in ten schools, do not have clean water and soap for handwashing.
Despite hygiene’s vital role in preventing disease and death, only 1% of water, sanitation and hygiene funding is spent on changing hygiene habits available data shows.
2020 to 2030 has been declared as the Decade for Action by the UN and calls for accelerating sustainable solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This includes providing safe water and proper sanitation for all. The access to safe water can facilitate good hand hygiene practices.
It is therefore important to leave no one behind in the provision of safe water.
CONIWAS however commends the government on efforts being made to ensure that Ghanaians have access to safe water.
“It is heartwarming to know that 79% of Ghanaians have access to basic drinking water (MICS 2017/2018). Again, the government provided free water to many Ghanaians (albeit challenges in many areas) to support the promotion of hand hygiene practices in combating the COVID 19 pandemic” the Coalition noted.
Nevertheless, as the Global Goals calls for us to Leave No One Behind, CONIWAS will like to draw the government’s attention on the following;
Remember people who live in places with no access to any sustainable water systems.
According to the MICS 2017/2018 report, the rich person in Ghana is 46% more likely to have access to improved sources of drinking water than the poor. This means that as a country, we have not adequately developed a mechanism to protect the poor and people living in low income communities from using unimproved drinking water sources. The statement revealed.
It pointed out that in times of crises such as the COVID 19, the poorest are most likely to suffer. For CONIWAS, the provision of safe water should be regarded as a social good and should be provided for everyone to protect them from various diseases including outbreaks such as the COVID-19.
“Be guided by the fact that basic drinking water is a fundamental human right in addressing inequalities in potable water services provision.
In line with the National Water Policy, strengthen all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, to enable them coordinate and appropriately direct resource allocations with the objective of reducing inequalities.
There must be a conscious effort to prioritize the unserved in any government interventions including great initiatives such as the provision of free water services..
In conclusion we wish to call on every Ghanaian to be responsible and take handwashing with soap seriously. Hand washing with soap can save us from contracting many illnesses including the deadly Coronavirus and so we should WASH our hands regularly and make it part of our daily lives even beyond the COVID 19 pandemic.” Portions of the statement read.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: email@example.com