When clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are not a normal part of daily life, the impacts on health and well-being are devastating.
People are at high risk of potentially fatal diseases such as cholera and serious conditions. Most of these are transmitted through water, hands, soil and food contaminated by human faeces, spread because properly protected water sources, toilets and good hygiene habits are absent or inadequate.
WaterAid and WASH in health and nutrition
The effects go beyond the illnesses themselves. It is estimated that half of undernutrition is associated with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), because diarrhoeal diseases and parasites prevent people from absorbing nutrients from food. Undernutrition in the first two years of life causes stunting, which permanently damages children’s long-term physical and mental development.
Frequent illnesses and undernutrition keep children from attending school and adults from going to work, limiting students’ potential and reducing adults’ income. All of this contributes to a vicious cycle of poverty, and impacts on a country’s economic growth and development. And without clean water and soap in healthcare facilities, staff and patients cannot deliver quality, safe healthcare, putting the lives of patients – especially vulnerable mothers and babies – in danger.
Therefore, our interventions include:
- Working closely with State National Health Mission on menstrual hygiene management. The initiatives include training and building the understanding of relevant stakeholders and providing knowledge support to the department.
- Intervention around on WASH in health care facilities by focusing on strengthening of Rogi Kalyan Samitis.
- Working closely with the Department of Women and Child Development on menstrual hygiene management programme, like UDITA, providing knowledge and technical support.
When more developed nations came to understand the importance of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene for health, it triggers massive investment in public infrastructure and legislation. People in the countries where we work deserve exactly the same.
We focus on health in our research, programmes, policy and advocacy, boosting our efforts to improve access to clean water, toilets and hygiene as a key health intervention. And we foster integration between sectors and ministries, helping those working in WASH, health, education, nutrition, and more, to work together to make a bigger difference.
Only by making clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere, can we prevent disease, tackle undernutrition, and deliver quality health services that keep people well and unlock their potential.
We focus on integrating hygiene promotion as part of the work carried out by frontline workers (ASHA and anganwadi workers) targeting particularly pregnant and lactating mothers (to ensure infant health and survival) and adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene.
Resources are leveraged from current Government programmes to ensure adequate WASH infrastructure in both health care and anganwadi centres. Through training and outreach programme, we promote hand hygiene in identified health care centres. In the districts where Kayakalp was used to assess WASH status, we ensure regular follow-ups through advocacy and training to integrate the recommendations as part of the district annual planning. By training and supporting Rogi Kalayan Samitis (hospital committees), we empower them to demand and ensure clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene in the hospitals.
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