Half of the world’s health facilities lack basic hygiene, says UN

Half of the health facilities in the world lack basic hygiene servicesputting nearly 4 billion people at risk of infection, the UN warned on Tuesday.

these facilities they do not have water, soap or hand sanitizer in places where patients receive care or in their health services, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

Some 3.85 billion people use these facilities and are at risk of infectionincluding 688 million people who receive care in places without any hygienic service, the UN agencies indicated in the report of their Joint Monitoring Program.

"Hygiene facilities and practices are non-negotiable"said MarĂ­a Neira, from the WHO.

He added that "its improvement is essential for recovery, prevention and preparation for the pandemic".

"Hygiene in health centers cannot be ensured without increasing investment in basic measures, such as drinking water, clean toilets and the proper management of sanitary waste."he pointed.

The global figure, based on data from 40 countries, presents a "startling portrait" of the state of hygiene in health centers, according to the report.

He indicated that 68% of the health centers have hygienic facilities at the points of care and 65% had sinks with soap and water in the restrooms.

Nevertheless, only 51% have bothwhile 9% of the world’s healthcare facilities have neither.

"If those who provide health care do not have access to hygiene services, patients will also not have a health facility"said Kelly Ann Naylor of UNICEF.

"Hospitals and clinics without drinking water and basic hygiene and sanitation services are a potential death trap for pregnant mothers, newborns and children"Naylor said.

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"Every year about 670,000 newborns die from septicemia. This is unacceptable, even more so because their deaths are preventable."he added.

According to the report, the facilities with the worst conditions are those in sub-Saharan Africa, where only 37% have sinks with soap and water in the toilets.

In less developed countries, only 53% of facilities have potable water on site.

About 3% of health facilities in urban areas and 11% in rural areas around the world lack water service.

The report is presented at the World Water Week in Stockholm, which ends on Thursday.

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