Honorable chair and delegates.

You all know the statistics. More than 1 million deaths each year are associated with unclean births, and infections are a major contributor to both maternal and newborn mortality. Diarrhoea is still the second-leading cause of death in children under five. 

This is hard to change as long as 896 million people use a health facility with no water service at all, 1 in 9 don’t have clean water close to home, and 1 in 3 don’t have a decent toilet. Women and girls bear the biggest burden of no access. 

Water, sanitation and hygiene are essential to infection prevention and control in health facilities, and provide the foundation to quality healthcare. With improved WASH, mothers can have a safe and dignified birth experience and keep their children healthy once at home. Women can manage their periods and have greater choice in contraceptive methods. Girls won’t have to put themselves at risk of violence just to go to the bathroom.

WaterAid urges member states and WHO to seize the opportunity presented through the proposed global strategy and the concurrent Resolution on WASH in healthcare facilities, to drive the step change required to coordinate and scale up action on WASH. As member states take action, we urge them to put women and girls at the forefront of implementation in leadership roles, and ensure all activities address their unique needs.