WaterAid statement at World Health Assembly: Global Programme of Work

The following statement was delivered by WaterAid Ghana's Country Director Abdul-Nashiru Mohammed on 22 May 2018 at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva.

WaterAid welcomes WHO leadership on the Global Programme of Work (GPW). We support the Executive Board request to draft comprehensive global strategy on health, environment and climate change developed in preparation for the 72nd WHA.

WaterAid has seen the impact that effective cross-sectoral action and clear accountability on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and health can deliver across quality and safety of care, maternal and child health and in combatting infectious and emerging disease.

We know that inadequate WASH undermines health and healthcare; leading to preventable infections, affecting health worker motivation, hampering preparedness for outbreaks and affecting individual dignity and quality of care. Inadequate access to WASH is a risk factor for diarrhoeal disease, undernutrition, antimicrobial resistance, neglected tropical diseases and cholera. We must address the environmental risk factors that enable those conditions to flourish.

WASH in healthcare facilities remains a winnable battle. However, without collective political will, we will miss our opportunity to galvanise action and deliver on this foundational element of good health and safe, quality and dignified healthcare. We now need clear actions to realise the ambition and potential of this Global Programme of Work.

We call on WHO to champion cross-sectoral working and proactively in break down siloes that linger between sectors through the delivery of this global programme of work.

We urge Member States to:

  • Coordinate and align efforts across WASH and health sectors, ministries and organisations to maximise impact for health.
  • Prioritise WASH as a component of health system strengthening and resilience, including WASH in healthcare facilities and in combatting infectious diseases through policies, programmes and strategies relevant for achieving universal health coverage.
  • Finance WASH in healthcare facilities as part of broader health systems investments, with sustainable long-term domestic and international financing.

WaterAid will continue to work with member states, WHO and partners on integration of WASH and health through multi-sectoral action to deliver the Global Programme of Work.