Without access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, communities are at higher risk from deadly diseases and conditions, such as cholera, diarrhoea, sepsis, malnutrition, pneumonia and trachoma.
Additionally, it is estimated that half of undernutrition is associated with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), because diarrhoeal diseases and parasites prevent people from absorbing nutrients from food. Undernutrition in the first two years of life causes stunting, which permanently damages children’s long-term physical and mental development.
At WaterAid Tanzania, since 2014, we have been particularly focused on improving WASH in Healthcare Facilities (HCFs), as a way to improve maternal and newborn health across the country.
Why is WASH so important in Healthcare Facilities?
WASH in healthcare facilities is a key area of work for WaterAid Tanzania. Clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are fundamental for ensuring a safe environment, reducing the risk of healthcare-associated infections, the spread of antimicrobial resistance and the risk of mothers and newborns dying from sepsis.
Results from the 2014-2015 Tanzania Service Provision Assessment (TSPA) survey conducted by the Government of Tanzania show that on average, only 44% of HCFs had functioning toilets, and over 68% of all facilities had an improved water source in the facility. It was noted further that hospitals, in general, do have access to a water source, but supply is often unreliable or intermittent.
Evidence from our projects similarly show that WASH in Healthcare Facilites increase trust in the health services, encouraging women to give birth at the clinic and receive antenatal and postnatal services.
See these photos below from our WASH in Healthcare Facilities project in Geita, in collaboration with AMREF and funded by Global Affairs Canada: