Looming epidemics from some health institutions and communities in the Upper East and Oti Regions have prompted an urgent appeal to the Government of Ghana to prioritise and increase Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare (HCF) facilities.
This followed findings of an assessment by the World Vision Ghana (WVG) with support from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Merck Global Health Institute International (MGHI), in 2022 on WASH in 197 healthcare facilities and some 32 communities in six Municipal and District Assemblies in the Oti and Upper East Regions.
The six districts where the research was conducted were: Kassena Nankana West, Kassena Nankana East, and Builsa South all in the Upper East Regions; with Krachi East, Krachi West, and Nkwanta South in the Oti Region.
The findings of the research, carried out within the context of a Schistosomiasis Control and Elimination programmes, indicated that in the six districts, 47.7 per cent of all HCFs do not have the requisite number of improved toilet facilities.
The findings of the research dubbed: “WASH-NTD Nexus Project” were made known at a national level dissemination workshop, held recently in Accra.
Participants came from institutions as the GHS, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, the United States Agency for International Development, the National Development Planning Commission, religious orgnisations and the media, among others.
Mr Robel L. Wamisho, Technical Programme Manager WASH, World Vision Ghana in a post workshop interview with the Ghana New Agency (GNA) stressed the need for all stakeholders to work together to address the challenges of access and use of water and sanitation in healthcare facilities.
He stressed that, “without appropriate WASH infrastructure and services, patients, healthcare workers, and communities are at increased risk of disease
He said if patients or staff drunk unsafe water, or took oral medications with unsafe water, they were likely to get sick with a waterborne disease.
Mr Wamisho said WASH infrastructure and services were also essential to allow healthcare workers to perform appropriate infection prevention and control (IPC) practices, citing for example, both healthcare workers and patients needed access to hand hygiene supplies to reduce the risk of spreading infections through unwashed hands.
“The situation where WASH facilities are not available or inadequate, puts the life of everyone and risk,” Mr Wamisho said.
Ms Suglo-Konbo Ibrahim, WASH Project Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, WVG, said that the six districts were selected based on the prevalence of Schistosomiasis and proximity to WVG project areas.
Among key findings were that 22.3% of HCFs across the six districts did not have improved water sources accessible on-premises.
The WASH-NTD Nexus Project also revealed that about 26% of water points in HCFs sampled had E-coli presence.
According to the report, 11% of water points ranked as medium risk of possible contamination. 30% medium risk in Kassena Nankana East.
Also, about 71% of HCFs surveyed do not have hand hygiene stations at all points of care.
Again, 93% (80% in rural) of HCFs in Ghana have hand hygiene stations at points of
WVG and its partners have therefore called on the government to ensure that both old and all new HCF being put up came with auxiliary WASH facilities.
Access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services HCFs is essential for the provision of quality care.
The study recommended among others that piped water into caregiving areas over hand pumps and suggested that hand hygiene promotion materials are displayed and clearly visible in all wards and treatment areas.