Chair, honourable delegates, the focus of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) High Level meeting is: moving together to build a healthier world. To genuinely achieve this we need to promote and protect health. Without water, sanitation and hygiene, this will not be possible. 

As Richard Horton stated, “more people die from poor quality healthcare than they do from not seeking healthcare”. 

New data from World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF shows that almost 900 million people must seek care at health facilities with no water, 1.5 billion people must seek care where no toilets are available and almost half of facilities do not have hand hygiene stations at points of care. 

How can quality of care be delivered without these basic services? It can’t.

The situation in households is also dire. 844 million people don’t have access to clean water close to home and 2.3 billion live without a decent toilet.  If we want to leave noone behind and achieve equity in health service coverage and quality, WASH must be at the foundation.

We call on Member States, WHO and partners to:

  • Strengthen coordination to facilitate cross-sectoral planning, implementation and monitoring between the health and WASH sectors;
  • Ensure hygiene promotion is integrated as an essential health intervention at healthcare facilities and as a component of UHC; and,
  • Allocate greater financing for and ownership of WASH to ensure a holistic approach to health both in communities and within healthcare facilities.

Thank you.

This statement was given by Leah Richardson, WASH and Health Advisor from WaterAid Sweden, on 22 May 2019.