Juba, 24 January 2018 –The lack of safe water, functional toilets, hand washing facilities and waste management system in healthcare settings poses significant health risks to patients, healthcare workers and nearby communities.
To ensure all health care facilities in all settings have adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, WHO assessed eight County Hospitals (Koajok, Bor, Yambio, Juba Teaching Hospital, Al Sabbah Children’s Hospital, Wau, Renk and Torit) and seven Primary Health Care Centres (Kapoeta South, Kapoeta North, Mingkaman, Tonj East, Narus, Cdot and Gerger) to obtain a complete overview with the essential details for water and sanitation needs of health facilities.
The walkthrough assessments of the facilities focused on main priority areas such as water quality control and quantity, hygiene and sanitation, technical water and sanitation staff management, infection control and vector control, and health care waste management to strengthen the preparedness and response capacity and address the WASH needs in an emergency.
Although substantial funding is currently made to the improvement of WASH services and access to safe drinking water in communities and IDP camps. The protracted nature of the crisis and famine in South Sudan contributed to a declining access to safe drinking water and sanitation amenities, leading to the spread of diseases, such as cholera and acute watery diarrhea.
The findings of the assessment reveled that many health care facilities in South Sudan lack basic WASH services, compromising the ability to provide safe care and presenting serious health risks to those seeking treatment, says Mr Alex Freeman, WASH Focal Person for WHO South Sudan. To decrease the risks of site-related or preventable infections among health care facility staff, patients, and the wider community, access to adequate WASH services in health care facilities is essential to provide quality care.
As part of its efforts to address some of the key gaps in line with the WHO African Region water and sanitation for health facility improvement tool, WHO conducted many activities including baseline WASH evaluation assessment in health facilities; training of 32 national public health officers on water quality control testing and monitoring including infection control management in health facilities, cholera treatment centers, cholera treatment units and oral rehydration points (ORPs); integrating WASH during the meningitis campaign; procurement and dissemination of chlorination kits to support the cholera response; build the capacity of WASH cluster partners, City Council and Ministry of Health on water quality control, testing, treating and monitoring.
In an effort to support the cholera response in high risk areas, WHO in collaboration with UNICEF and OXFAM conducted a comprehensive WASH training to enhance WASH capacities in cholera treatment facilities.
WHO also developed and disseminated over 1 000 disinfection charts to guide WASH and health partners on proper disinfection of cholera treatment centers, cholera treatment units and ORPs including health facilities and provided mobile water quality and safety testing kits to the National Public Health Laboratory to establish water quality control testing hub within the national public health laboratory in Juba.
Access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities are fundamental to the provision of quality care, says Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. to South Sudan. This assessment will help decision makers to determine and implement appropriate emergency response measures.
WHO will continue its support in leading the implementation of a Global Action Plan on WASH in Health Care Facilities through generating new evidences for advocacy, strengthening water quality surveillance, improving monitoring and capacity building especially on safe health care waste management as well as technical support for assessing and making improvements at the facility level, Mr Liyosi underscored.