WHO is launching a global plan of action to improve access to WASH at all health care facilities. This kind of intersectoral collaboration is set to become a major theme in the post-2015 development agenda.
Better access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities is crucial for mothers and babies to stay healthy. It is just as important as curative measures says Dr Maria Neira, the Director of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO) . She announced that WHO will launch a global plan of action by March 2015 on improving access to WASH at all health care facilities .
Of all the Millennium Development Goals, the maternal health and sanitation targets are among the farthest off track, said Rebecca Fishman, operations and special projects director of WASH Advocates.
An estimated 800 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes every day, and 20 times that number suffer non-lethal, but no less life-altering, complications. At the same time, 780 million people are without access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion lack access to safe sanitation.
What is the interaction between these two trends – poor maternal health and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)? And could there be ways to address both in developing countries? To commemorate International Women’s Day and World Water Day, a panel of experts gathered to discuss at the Wilson Center on March 10.
“Some very basic elements of human development related to water, sanitation and hygiene that were accepted in the 19th and early 20th centuries are still unavailable to a large proportion of pregnant women in the 21st century”, write the authors of a new Simavi study .
Each year 290,000 women die from complications during pregnancy, birth and the neonatal period; and, an estimated 10 to 20 million women suffer from related health complications. Almost 90% of the maternal deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Much of this is preventable through practices that have long been established.
The Simavi study reviews published literature describing the impact of water, sanitation and hygiene on maternal health and mortality.