Home > News > WASH in health care facilities – Practical steps to achieve universal access to quality care A new WHO document to drive action

In 2018 the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) issued a Global Call to Action to elevate the importance of and prioritize action on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in all health care facilities, including primary, secondary and tertiary facilities in both the public and private sectors. The call recognises the important role WASH plays in preventing infections, saving lives, and improving quality of care.

Water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management and environmental cleaning in health care facilities, particularly in maternity and primary care settings, are essential for achieving universal health coverage and for supporting aspects of quality, equity and dignity for all people.

WHO and UNICEF have now released two companion reports which 1) provide baselines for WASH in health care facilities – the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report, and 2) outline a set of eight practical actions that countries can take at the national and sub-national level, as well as providing some practical case studies, including one from The Soapbox Collaborative describing the TEACH CLEAN package (the practical steps document).

The purpose of the practical steps document is two-fold. The first is to clearly present the eight steps. The second aim is to summarize the global response to the UN Secretary General’s Call to Action, including a global vision, and set of targets and metrics. The main audiences for this document are national health policy makers, district health managers, quality experts and implementers, and health facility administrators and staff. Additional audiences include global WASH and health partners, national water and sanitation policy-makers, WASH practitioners, researchers, and civil society.

The eight practical steps are:

All UN agencies, Member States, and other entities are being asked to act now to improve this critical component for health and wellbeing. Read the document and access the global knowledge portal on WASH in health care facilities (www.washinhcf.org). This site has been completely revised and relaunched. It serves as the go-to for information, news and resources related to WASH in health care facilities. A section to enable pledge commitments related to WASH in health care facilities will also be featured. Everyone is invited to contribute towards all parts of the site (stories, videos, resources, news or upcoming events), directly on the website or by emailing washinhcf@who.int.

). This site has been completely revised and relaunched. It serves as the go-to for information, news and resources related to WASH in health care facilities. A section to enable pledge commitments related to WASH in health care facilities will also be featured. Everyone is invited to contribute towards all parts of the site (stories, videos, resources, news or upcoming events), directly on the website or by emailing washinhcf@who.int.