At the 2023 World Health Assembly, our message is simple: world leaders have the power to save millions of lives by investing in clean water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities. This is an achievable and affordable action. The choice to act – or not – lies with health ministers and their governments.
Delivering safe, dignified and quality healthcare to everyone, everywhere
From 21–30 May, ministers of health from around the world will convene in Geneva, Switzerland, for the 76th World Health Assembly. The World Health Organization (WHO) will host this year’s Assembly under the theme ‘WHO at 75: saving lives, driving health for all'.
At the heart of realising this ambition is the delivery of safe, dignified and quality healthcare to everyone, everywhere. This, however, will remain impossible until healthcare facilities everywhere have access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.
- Half of healthcare facilities in the world do not have basic hand hygiene facilities on site.
- 1.7 billion people are at higher risk of contracting infectious diseases because they use or work in a healthcare facility that does not provide basic hygiene.
- Every two seconds a woman gives birth in a healthcare facility without water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
- Infections associated with unclean birth environments cause 26% of newborn and 11% of maternal deaths each year.
This is appalling. This is unacceptable.
The cost of poor WASH in healthcare facilities
For health workers, for those seeking care – especially women and girls – and for global health, the lack of WASH in healthcare facilities comes with dire consequences.
It enables deadly infections to spread globally, killing millions of people around the world every year.
It undermines the efforts of health workers, robs patients of their dignity and widens inequity in healthcare.
Join us on 25 May for our side event 'Affordable but overlooked: the healthcare vitals that will save millions of lives'. Download the flyer (PDF) for further details, RSVP to attend in person or watch the livestream.
A problem health ministers can solve by 2030
Health ministers and their governments have the power to save millions of lives every year by investing in WASH in healthcare facilities.
A targeted investment of US$9.6 billion is needed to provide every healthcare facility in the least-developed countries with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene by 2030. That’s just $0.60 per person, per year in least developed countries until 2030.
This affordable action will bring immense benefits to patients and healthcare workers, and reduce the burden of healthcare costs.
The cost of saving millions of lives in the world's least developed countries is less than a dollar per person per year until 2030.
The cost of inaction, on the other hand, is devastating and will be paid by pregnant women, patients, health workers and their families around the world.
Who pays what price? The choice belongs to health ministers and their governments.
What we’re calling for at the 76th World Health Assembly
Health ministers and governments in low- and middle-income countries must finance and deliver clean water, sanitation and hygiene in every healthcare facility in their countries by 2030.
Health ministers and governments in high-income countries must mobilise global funding and collaborate to make sure healthcare facilities everywhere have clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.
Donors must ringfence investment for clean water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities, and to build robust monitoring systems that ensure resources reach those who need them most.
WaterAid supporters – share our message and tell your health ministers that the choice to save millions of lives – or not – is theirs!
Water, sanitation and hygiene
A foundation of strong, resilient health systems
Top image: Afonsina Mulikiwa sits in the waiting area with another patient as they wait to be attended to at the health centre in Napacala. Niassa Province, Mozambique, 23 July, 2022.