WHO: May 5, 2021 Clean Your Hands Campaign (3)

19 April, 2021

We read Neil's post about 'water and Clean Hands' and are moved to contribute the following, that highlights the real life challenge that millions in LMICs face as they want to comply to official advice:

‘the U.N. observation of World Water Day (March 22, 2012), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced a major achievement, said, that ‘Nearly 90 percent of the world's population now have access to clean drinking water, up from 76 percent a decade before. But the benefits of that water are still elusive for hundreds of millions.’.

But that figure belies the grim picture in Africa and other LMICs even at that time, and it has not changed much. Notice that that was a good two years before Ebola (2014) and now the world is facing COVID19 pandemic, giving out the same non pharmaceutical advice including ‘regular hand washing with running water’. But there is no water of any sort (running or stagnant) for many in LMICs:

Extracts from that 2012 UN message, which has not changed much for millions of people in LMICs, include that:

- ‘Godeliève Niragira is a mother of four in Gikungu, a suburb of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. Her community has running water - sometimes.

- "We can spend two days with no water, and the shocking thing is that no one ever tells us the reason it was cut off," she says. "We have to camp out in front of the tap and stay there until we have enough water to fill a jug or a bucket."

- When there is no water, no one can wash their hands. "Everyone is afraid of catching some epidemic disease, which could arise from one moment to the next," adds another resident.

- According to a UNICEF report, diarrhea linked to unclean water kills 24,000 young people around the world every day.

- There was no running water at all in Gikungu until a neighborhood association raised 600,000 Burundian francs ($465, six months' salary for a middle-class professional) to outfit 120 houses with plumbing. "It's better than nothing," says a member of the association.

- Despite steps forward over the past few years, Sub-Saharan Africa "remains at the back of the queue" in terms of drinking water and sanitation, says George Yap, executive director of WaterCan, a Canadian NGO active in East Africa. He says access to drinking water goes hand in hand with access to improved sanitation and hygiene education, which is much less widespread.

- "We talk about drinking water, but we don't talk enough about sanitation," adds Anais Mourey of Coalition Eau, a French partnership of NGOs dedicated to increasing water access. "It's a taboo subject even though it's natural. - We all go to the toilet."

- According to Coalition Eau, 40 percent of the world's population, around 3 billion people, lacks access to toilets. All seven continents are affected, although South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are the worst off. The United Nations had hoped to halve the proportion of the world's population without access to drinking water and sanitation, but has acknowledged that "improvements in sanitation are bypassing the poor" and "the sanitation target appears to be out of reach."

That came from Burundi but for most of the populations in Africa and South Asia the lack of water and sanitation is grim especially in this pandemic - COVID-19 pandemic.

Joseph Ana.

HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007. Website: www.hriwestafrica.com Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers.



Email: jneana AT yahoo.co.uk