The Role of WASH in Healthcare Settings to Reduce Transmission of Antimicrobial Resistance

The Role of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Healthcare Settings to Reduce Transmission of Antimicrobial Resistance. Antimicrobial Resistance Control, July 2016.

This article by USAID’s Rochelle Rainey and Merri Weinger concludes that antimicrobial resistance is a multisectoral problem that requires a comprehensive strategy, including WASH improvements, to prevent emergence and transmission.

The lack of safe water, functional toilets, and handwashing facilities in healthcare settings poses significant health risks to patients, healthcare workers and nearby communities. The ongoing global problem of health facility-acquired infections (HAI) has highlighted the consequences of the lack of water and sanitation facilities and practice of key hygiene behaviours.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a multisectoral problem that requires a comprehensive strategy, including WASH improvements, to prevent emergence and transmission. Hand hygiene has been cited as the single most important practice to reduce HAI, and improved hand hygiene practices have been associated with a sustained decrease in the incidence of antimicrobial-resistant infections in healthcare settings.

WASH also plays a role in the cleaning of surfaces and bedding for preventing transmission of HAI. Leadership and commitment is needed from governments, international and local organizations, donors and civil society to implement the global action plan to achieve universal access to WASH in healthcare facilities.

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