Water, sanitation and hygiene must be the first lines of defence against antimicrobial resistance

Posted 26 Sep 2016 by Yael Velleman

As world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly to discuss the rise of drug-resistant micro-organisms globally, Yael Velleman, WaterAid's Senior Policy Analyst on Health and Hygiene, discusses why they would do well to consider the experience of the midwives at Kiomboi Hospital in the Iramba district of Tanzania.

Before a WaterAid intervention earlier this year, Kiomboi’s taps were dry for 23 hours per day, leaving medical professionals faced with a difficult choice: risk the transmission of infection during childbirth because the delivery room and instruments could not be properly cleaned, or prescribe precious antibiotics as a preventive measure, possibly contributing to the emerging problem of drug-resistant infections.

Midwives Farida and Juliana wash their hands from a bucket of water in the labour ward at Kiomboi Hospital, Tanzania.Midwives Farida and Juliana wash their hands from a bucket of water in the labour ward at Kiomboi Hospital, Tanzania.

It is difficult to describe what it is like for medical professionals like these, delivering babies and caring for patients in a hospital without adequate access to clean water or proper sanitation.

The water supply to the wards runs for just one hour per day, medical equipment is washed in the same sink that waste from the maternity ward is disposed into, and expectant mothers wash their babies’ clothes in the dirty water of a nearby river. The only toilet is fetid and dank and the shower is next to an open sewer. Dirty hands and dirty water mean that pathogens spread quickly and babies and their mothers risk infections like sepsis.

Read the full article on The Lancet >

Yael Velleman is WaterAid's Senior Policy Analyst on Health and Hygiene. She tweets as @YaelVelleman.


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  • Shamim Ashraf said:

    29 Sep 2016 17:15

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