By Brian Hall, Chair of Operations, WASH Rotary Action Group
During World Water Week, 23-27 August, allow me to share some staggering facts regarding water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities in low- and middle-income countries:
- 50% of the healthcare facilities lack access to piped water
- 33% lack improved sanitation
- 39% lack soap for handwashing
- 39% lack adequate infectious waste disposal
As staggering as these numbers are, consider that nearly 2 billion people depend on healthcare facilities without basic water services. Imagine giving birth in a facility where infectious waste is still present. Imagine having a surgery in a facility where there is no soap for handwashing. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, WASH in healthcare facilities is a “best buy” with a 50% return on investment. It slows the spread of microbial resistance, prevents infection in hospitals, and reduces preventable maternal and newborn deaths. These facts, among others, have directed the WASH Rotary Action Group’s efforts over the last few months.
Our annual World Water Summit, held virtually in June, was our first event to focus on WASH in healthcare facilities. Presenters included Emory University’s Joanne McGriff and John Oldfield of Global Water 2020. In addition, multiple projects from Rotarians around the world addressing WASH in healthcare facilities were shared. View the recording on our YouTube channel.
On 5 and 6 August, we held a webinar on WASH in healthcare facilities with a specific focus on women’s empowerment and gender issues. We’ll continue our focus on WASH in healthcare facilitates in our webinars through the end of this year:
- 4 and 5 November: Tools to build great programs. Register for the session on Thursday, 4 November or on Friday, 5 November.
- 18 and 19 November: Bringing about Change (Resources, Partnerships, and Advocacy). Registration will open soon.
Support for your WASH projects
The WASH Rotary Action Group helps clubs and districts find partners for their WASH projects. Contact us if you want to support a quality, vetted project or if you need help finding international partners for your program. For example, the WASH Rotary Action Group is partnering with HANWASH, Haiti National Clean Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy on a global grant project and helping them find partners.
The big news is that the WASH Rotary Action Group will soon be seeking applications for and selecting a global grant to receive a $25,000 matching contribution from us. We’ll publicize your project, and we’ll match each dollar of district-designated funds contributed. That means your project could receive $50,000 in funding, plus the World Fund match. The grant must be approved by The Rotary Foundation, and we’ll help with that process if necessary.
Our goal is to enhance the efforts of Rotarians and Rotaractors around the globe in their water, sanitation, and hygiene projects and programs. We do this by providing human, technical, and financial support to clubs and districts that are seeking to help communities to gain sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Our global network of technical experts and WASH-minded supporters help us accomplish this goal. Contact our technical experts for project advice. Join us at https://www.wash-rag.org as we work to make the world a better place!