WHO notes that half of healthcare facilities around the world lack basic hygiene

Half of health facilities around the world lack basic hygiene services like soap and water, the World Health Organization and UNICEF said in a new report Tuesday.

Why it matters: Poor hygiene conditions put the approximately 3.85 billion people who depend on the facilities at higher risk of disease and infection, according to the WHO and UNICEF.

  • The report says unsanitary environments and health workers play a “significant” role in the transmission of pathogens and could prolong health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you say: “Healthcare hygiene facilities and practices are non-negotiable. Improving them is critical for recovery, prevention and preparedness for a pandemic,” said Maria Neira, director of the WHO Division for Environment, Climate Change and Health.

  • Hospitals and clinics without clean water and basic sanitation are “a potential death trap for pregnant mothers, newborns and children,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, a UNICEF director who oversees risk reduction. She found that around 670,000 newborns die every year from sepsis.

Details: The WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program reports country, regional and global estimates of progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

  • The hygiene report contains data from 40 countries and represents 35% of the world’s population. This is an increase from 21 counties in 2020.

Using the numbers: Only 51% of health centers had point-of-care hygiene facilities and handwashing facilities, meaning the other half did not meet WHO criteria for basic hygiene services.

  • 11% of healthcare facilities worldwide – serving around 688 million people – have no sanitation services.

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