Globally, over 1.8 billion people use health care facilities that lack basic water services and over 800 million people use facilities with no toilets.
Zambia is no exception to this.
The 2018 Demographic and Health Survey sheds a light on WASH conditions in Zambia:
- 64% of the population uses basic drinking water services (87% in urban areas, 49% in rural areas)
- 33% of the population uses a basic sanitation service (41% in urban areas, 28% in rural areas)
- 10% of the population practices open defecation (1% in urban areas, 16% in rural areas)
- 24% of the population has access to basic hygiene services, i.e. a handwashing facility with soap and water (36% urban, 15% rural)
The provision of WASH in health care facilities is imperative to prevent of infections and spread of disease, protect healthcare staff and patients, and the uphold of the dignity of vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and the disabled.
The 2019 World Health Assembly Resolution on WASH in health care facilities urges countries to address such WASH-related issues. WHO and UNICEF are seeking commitments from Governments, partners, organisations, and individuals in line with this Resolution. It is through this call that WaterAid Zambia (WAZ) have supported development of national guidelines in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MoH), and are now pioneering this work in Zambia, with On Call Africa.
Our partnership with WaterAid facilitates the delivery of WASH, waste management, accessibility, infection prevention control and accessibility, in line with MoH priorities. We are working to implement WASH interventions in 27 rural health facilities in Western Province, Zambia. The aim of this partnership is to build evidence for government-led delivery of the programme, to see the impact improved WASH can have on health outcomes, and to advocate for greater government investment in WASH in HCFs.
OCA and WAZ have established WASH committees within the two target districts, Mwandi and Sesheke, and are working closely with district teams to ensure that work is integrated and embedded within the government to ensure sustainability. OCA supports the committees and WAZ civil engineers, as well as training health workers, strengthening WASH systems across each district, building capacity of district teams, ensuring inclusive access to health services, with particular attention to disability and menstrual health, and promoting community engagement and hygiene behaviour change.