Water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities: an investment that will save lives

A heavily pregnant woman carrying a child on her back collects water from a waterpoint.
Image: WaterAid/ Cynthia Matonhodze

The world faces devastating health risks due to major global gaps in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities. Globally, almost 4 billion people lack basic hygiene services at their healthcare facility. Across the world’s least-developed countries, the problem is even greater, with half lacking basic water services.

Lack of WASH in healthcare facilities increases infection and disease rates. This, in turn, leads to a greater need for and prolonged use of antibiotics, inflated costs to patients and the health system, and the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance – all of which hinder national progress towards universal health coverage.

WASH has the power to achieve safer primary healthcare services, save lives and improve health outcomes – reducing infectious diseases and improving infant and maternal mortality rates.

Read our policy brief to discover the critical actions governments and donors must take to attain safe, dignified and quality care, and improve patient and health worker safety by scaling up WASH in healthcare facilities.