As Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, I commend today our partners, philanthropies, NGOs, faith-based organizations, financial institutions, corporations, and universities as we join together at this historic convening to announce new and wide-ranging commitments to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions in healthcare facilities.
Amongst the many commitments made today, the Wellbeing Foundation has outlined its programmatic and advocacy promises to the world:
To disseminate information and advocacy regarding WASH standards through its influential MamaCare midwives and our partnership with Unilever Lifebuoy
To teach about WASH in healthcare facilities and schools
To continue its #WASHWednesday advocacy campaign
To develop our WASH for Healthcare Facilities Proper Cleaning programme.
Having successfully introduced and intensified our WASH for Wellbeing hygiene in health care facilities techniques to health workers and patients in over 570 medical facilities in 5 states of Nigeria, our challenge remains taking those standards to a national scale in Nigeria’s 36 states of the federation – to that end I was encouraged by the speech in November last year given by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari declaring a state of emergency in water, sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria and launching the National Plan of Action.
We know that this is a global challenge. 45% of healthcare facilities in ‘Least Developed Countries’ lack basic water services, and 1.5 billion people around the world have to use healthcare facilities without basic sanitation. The impact on infant and maternal mortality, pandemic and infection prevention and control, and antibiotic resistance, is devastating and well-documented.
The commitments made today, however, are truly unprecedented and reflect the impact of advocacy at local, regional and global levels.
In response to the UN Secretary General António Guterres’ Call to Action on World Water Day in March 2018, I retraced the steps of each of the programmes undertaken by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and launched a new WASH campaign with the World Health Organization in Nigeria.
I committed to work with my partners in the global health and development communities to stop mothers and newborns from dying from preventable and unnecessary complications, simply because the most basic of WASH services are not available, and to ensure that all countries implement the 2017 World Health Assembly Sepsis Resolution. Hand hygiene must be a quality indicator in every facility and a national marker of health care quality, with access to soap and water monitored and assessed.
To that end I conducted high-level meetings at the US State Department, with the World Bank, and with Congress to accelerate progress on WASH – and in many cases reverse worsening trends and indicators.
At the World Health Assembly last month in Geneva, I spoke in favour of the historic WASH resolution, and was delighted when, for the first time, the 194 WHO Member States joined together to acknowledge this global health crisis and move toward concrete action.
That resolution, combined with the unprecedented commitments made today, represent a leap forward in improving WASH conditions in Nigeria and around the world and have the potential to save millions of lives. Thank you to the frontline healthcare workers who will make that possible, and all of those here today for your vision and endeavour.