Water Sanitation Health

Healthcare facilities and waste

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities are fundamental for the provision of quality, people-centered care. Such services also reduce health care associated infections, increase trust and uptake of service, increase efficiency and decrease cost of service delivery and improve staff morale. All major initiatives to improve global health depend on basic WASH services in health care facilities. Such services include on-site improved water source accessible to all users at all times, adequate, functioning and accessible toilets, separated by gender, for staff, patients and visitors, functioning handwashing stations near all toilets and points of care and safe health care waste management including segregation, collection, transport, treatment and waste disposal.

With a significant proportion of facilities without any services at all, WHO, UNICEF and partners committed at a global meeting in March 2015 to address the situation, with the aim of achieving universal access to WASH services in all facilities, in all settings by 2030. A global action plan has been established to help realize this goal which focuses on four main areas of work: advocacy/leadership, monitoring, evidence and facility-based improvements.

A summary of the action plan, change objectives and timeline of key deliverables can be found here;

The WHO document Essential environmental health standards in health care describes essential environmental health standards for health care in low-resource settings and provides the basis for improving WASH services (see link below). The standards cover: water quality, water quantity, water facilities and access to water, excreta disposal, wastewater treatment and disposal, health-care waste disposal as well as other environmental issues.

Meeting reports

To learn more about the global initiative on WASH in health care facilities please visit the knowledge portal dedicated to this issue: