From the Frontlines: Christian Health Associations Tackle WASH in Healthcare Facilities
In June 2018, representatives from five Christian Health Associations (CHAs) participated in a training on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities (HCF), hosted by the Africa Christian Health Association Platform (ACHAP) and conducted by Emory University. Participants who join the training are those responsible for quality assurance, infrastructure, financing, and the coordination of medical care.
This was the first time these CHAs had received training on WASH in HCF. The primary objective of the training was to demonstrate the importance of WASH as it relates to the provision of quality of care. Additionally, participants were trained on the use of Emory University’s WASH Con tool, which assesses WASH conditions in HCF. The training concluded with each CHA drafting an action plan. The newly minted WASH in HCF Champions also created a WhatsApp group to stay connected as they implemented WASH in HCF activities.
Returning to home, each pair of representatives conducted assessments in 10 to 15 HCF run by their CHA. Prioritizing needs, an incremental improvement plan was developed which was financed in part through seed funding (approximately $6,000/CHA). In February 2019 at the ACHAP Biennial Meeting, the participants were reunited to report on progress, share experiences and discuss barriers and solutions. Key challenges identified were the limitations of funding and the need for further awareness in order to drive prioritization of the issue. The WASH in HCF Champions then presented their work to new CHAs and partners at the Biennial meeting.
Below are highlights on the activities to date from the trained CHAs (Ghana, Lesotho, Uganda Catholic, Zimbabwe) as well as two CHAs who separately have undertaken WASH in HCF activities (Uganda Protestant and Cameroon Baptist).
Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau (UCMB)
UCMB conducted the WASH assessment in 14 HCF of the Tororo Archdiocese. The assessment found similar WASH gaps as the other CHAs and also indicated that few of the HCF had at least one staff who had undergone refresher training on hand hygiene and WASH concepts. UCMB procured 43 hand washing facilities, three water storage tanks and posters on hand hygiene and safe waste segregation.
Upon the dissemination of results at to the HCF, some of the managers took actions themselves, budgeting for supplies, renovating toilets and bathrooms, constructing mini / standard incinerator, organize refresher training, conducting a self-assessment of WASH, and reconsidering the facility design to accommodate people with disabilities.
UCMB will disseminate the findings to the ecclesiastical bishops to raise awareness and solicit support for subsequent project proposals. UCMB also plans to survey the impact of the interventions on patient satisfaction and lobby for funds to support further assessments of WASH. A new hospital undertaking will be introduced later this year, requiring each hospital to conduct water quality testing through the patient safety committees.
Above: UCMB provided handwashing stations for those HCF where access to hand hygiene materials posed a challenge. (Photo Credit: Monicah Luwedde/ UCMB).