Nigeria: 26% Healthcare Facilities don’t have Access to Toilet, Says WaterAid

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

WaterAid Nigeria has disclosed that 26% of health care facilities in Nigeria do not have access to toilets on site and only 4% of health care facilities in Nigeria have access to combined water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

The NGO in a statement made available by its Communications & Media Manager, Oluseyi Abdulmalik, expressed worries that “Four in five health centres in Nigeria are still operating without soap or water two years after global promise”.

Abdulmalik explained that in Nigeria, about 17% of health care centres do not have access to a water source, adding that four in five health care facilities (80%) still lacks somewhere to wash hands with soap to protect patients and healthcare workers from catching and spreading deadly infections.

The NGO, therefore called on the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, to prioritise basic hygiene for health care facilities as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan in Nigeria.

WaterAid Nigeria said the call became necessary as health ministers from around the world prepare to attend the World Health Assembly, against the backdrop of international struggles to bring the Corona virus under control.

The statement further said, “two years ago the World Health Assembly’s 194 members unanimously agreed to ensure universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in all hospitals and other health facilities – since then the pandemic has highlighted just how vital these basic services are in controlling infection. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, has described soap and water as akin to personal protective equipment and absolutely fundamental for stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“When the World Health Assembly delegations last met in person, they passed a resolution to ensure that all health care facilities had water, sanitation, and hygiene. And yet, the data shows that across the world almost 2 billion people depend on health care facilities without basic water services, putting them at greater risk of catching COVID-19 and other deadly diseases. One in four health care facilities globally is still without clean water on site, one in three still has nowhere to wash hands where patients are treated and one in ten still lacks decent toilets.

“Furthermore, research has shown that money spent on water, sanitation and hygiene within healthcare is a ‘best buy’ for any country, producing a fifty percent return on investment.

The group noted that sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a cost-effective measure that guarantees the fight against COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The statement quoted the Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere, as saying “millions of people are at risk of contracting diseases because they use and work in a health care facility which lacks basic water services.

“Two years ago, at the World Health Assembly, global leaders resolved to prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene in all health care facilities. Now is the time for them to make good on those promises.”

“Trying to create a robust pandemic preparedness and response plan without ensuring that every health care centre has clean water and the ability to keep its patients, frontline health workers and premises clean is like building a fortress with a gaping hole where the door should be. Unless leaders wake up to this, more lives will be needlessly lost.”, Mere noted.

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