WaterAid celebrates historic legislation supporting water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities
September 18, 2023 (New York, NY)—WaterAid celebrates the introduction of “The Global WASH in Healthcare Facilities Act of 2023” today in Congress by Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Darin LaHood (R-IL). This bipartisan legislation requires the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop an action plan and provide regular reporting for its work to address the lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities.
Healthcare centers require sustainable and safe water, sanitation and hygiene services. But in least-developed countries, nearly half of those facilities have no water access, 68% lack basic hygiene resources like soap and water at points of care and 79% have no sanitation services. In some countries, as many as 70 patients are required to share one toilet. This puts patients, frontline health workers and staff at a much greater risk of infection and disease, especially mothers and newborns. Infections associated with unclean births account for 26% of neonatal deaths and 11% of maternal deaths.
We applaud Representatives Meng, Blumenauer and LaHood for bringing the water, sanitation and hygiene crisis to light. This bill is an opportunity to address a huge global gap in health, safety and infection prevention. It’s also another step toward ensuring that every physician and midwife can turn on a tap to wash their hands, every janitor has water and soap to clean, and every new mother can bathe with dignity, no matter where they live.
The Global WASH in Healthcare Facilities Act seeks to improve and expand upon U.S. efforts to increase access to WASH in healthcare facilities, a fundamental component of global health security. Today we are introducing legislation that impacts the lives of billions around the world, as well as our collective global health and economic security. We look forward to our bill becoming law.
WaterAid recognizes that the entire health sector must have clean water, sanitation and hygiene services to function properly. This requires a holistic and transparent approach, with governments, civil society, frontline health workers and communities working together to drive progress at every level.
The action plan required under the “Global WASH in Healthcare Facilities Act of 2023” would establish reporting requirements to improve transparency and accountability of USAID programs that address WASH in healthcare facilities. The yearly reports would provide updates on progress made, including spending and metrics on access to WASH.
### END ###
More about WaterAid
WaterAid is an international nonprofit working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a reality for everyone, everywhere within a generation. WaterAid works in 22 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 29 million people with clean water, 29 million people with decent toilets and 28 million people with good hygiene. wateraid.org/us
- 750 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.
- Two billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
- Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.
Every $2 invested in water and toilets returns an average of $8 in increased productivity.