A total of 59 per cent of Ghanaians are denied access to basic hygiene facilities, a situation that is threatening the health and lives of the people.
WaterAid Ghana in a statement to mark Global Handwashing Day said despite the critical importance of hygiene in healthcare, 29 per cent of all healthcare facilities do not have access to water.
Diarrhoea linked to lack of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) claimed the lives of 6 children in Ghana every day in 2017, it said.
It said simple act of hand washing with soap and water can reduce cases of diarrhoea by almost half, hence urged government to prioritise hand washing promotion in the country.
“Making sure that every patient and staff member can wash their hands with soap and clean water will help prevent infections and the spread of disease, whilst protecting staff and patients,” the statement noted.
Hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of dangerous germs, like Ebola virus. Correct hand hygiene lowers the number of germs on the hands and limits the opportunity for its spread.
Statistics from UNICEF and WHO has found that globally, 3 billion people (40%) do not have simple facilities to wash their hands with both soap and water. It is the first time that data on access to hygiene services has been included alongside access to water and sanitation.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day is being marked on the theme “Clean Hands for All.” This follows the push to leave no one behind in the Sustainable Development Agenda.
Country Director for WaterAid Ghana, Abdul Nashiru Mohammed, said: “Hand washing with soap is fundamental to effective hand hygiene, which in turn aids the prevention and spread of diseases.
“We cannot make this a normal practice for everyone if inequality to WASH access persists. WaterAid Ghana has demonstrated through our WASH and Health programme that access to water at vantage points in health care facilities makes a big difference in improving quality of care and in reducing risk of cross-infection,” he stated.
Mr Mohammed said I t is not enough to provide stand pipes in the yard of healthcare facilities and expect nurses to go in and out fetching water to deliver healthcare.
“Ghana must not settle for such standards. Water should be connected at points where they are needed to make hand washing with soap under running water very convenient for health workers,” he advised.
This year, WaterAid Ghana is marking Global Handwashing Day with two awareness raising events at the Akamo Primary School in the Kassena Nankana West in the Upper East Region and at the Boli Health Centre in Wa Municipal in the Upper West Region.