WaterAid statement in response to the World Health Assembly on ensuring water, sanitation and hygiene in all health care facilities

Posted by
Lisa Martin
28 May 2019

WaterAid warmly welcomes the World Health Assembly’s adoption of the “Resolution on water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities”. We reiterate the urgency the resolution outlines to address the water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively known as WASH) in health care facilities’ crisis.

Alison Macintyre, WaterAid’s WHA delegation leader said: 

“Put simply, a hospital is not a hospital without a reliable supply of clean water. Instead of being a place where people are helped back to health, a hospital without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene is a breeding ground for infections and until every health care facility has these three basics, superbugs will continue to thrive, mothers and babies will continue to be put at risk and the international community will fail on its promise of universal healthcare. For too long this unacceptable situation has been tacitly accepted – today that stops.

“This is a pivotal moment. Ministers must now act swiftly to put in place the financing to implement the resolution for water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities. 

“Ministries must work together and monitoring and assessment of progress systems put in place to ensure this resolution becomes reality.” 

WaterAid looks forward to the planned Global Commitment-making Event hosted by WHO, UNICEF and the Government of Zambia in September this year. We will continue building on our work worldwide, to improve water, sanitation and hygiene as part of health system-strengthening to achieve safe health care for all. 

New data from WHO and UNICEF shows that almost 900 million people must seek care at health facilities with no water, 1.5 billion people must seek care where no toilets are available and almost half of facilities do not have hand hygiene stations at points of care. Limited data exist for healthcare waste management and cleaning. What does exist indicates conditions are dire.


For more information or to arrange interviews with Alison Macintyre please contact: 
[email protected] or +44 (0) 207 793 5022, or [email protected].

Notes to Editors:
WaterAid at the World Health Assembly

WaterAid’s delegation attending:

  • Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive WaterAid UK
  • Alison Macintyre, Technical Lead – Health (head of delegation) Australia
  • Dan Jones, Advocacy Coordinator UK
  • Helen Hamilton, Senior Policy Analyst for Health and Hygiene UK
  • Megan Wilson-Jones, Policy Analyst for Health and Hygiene UK
  • Dedo Mate Kodjo, Regional Advocacy Manager West Africa region
  • Aly Sow, Programme Manager Mali
  • Danielle Zielinski, WASH and Health Officer USA
  • Leah Richardson, WASH and Health Advisor Sweden


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]

  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]

  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]

  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]

  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

  • To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org


[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] washwatch.org

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org/uk