Minister Advocates for Improved Sanitation in Healthcare Facilities

Minister of Health, Khumbidze Kandodo Chiponda, has emphasised the urgent need for collaborative efforts to ensure that healthcare facilities nationwide boast enhanced and high-quality sanitation amenities to mitigate the risk of hospital-acquired diseases, such as cholera.

The Minister’s remarks were made during a knowledge-sharing event on Water and Sanitation in Public Health, organised by WaterAid at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Tuesday.

Chiponda underscored Malawi’s ongoing struggle with waterborne diseases, including cholera and conjunctivitis, attributing them to poor sanitation and hygiene resulting from the neglect of water infrastructure maintenance in some healthcare facilities.

“Water, sanitation, and hygiene are fundamental to human well-being, and the provision of quality healthcare in public facilities hinges on accessible water. We are grateful to partners such as WaterAid for their efforts in building infrastructure to ensure improved access to water for sanitation and hygiene,” stated Chiponda.

Acknowledging the issue of inaccessible water in some healthcare facilities due to neglected sanitation infrastructure, Chiponda urged health authorities to implement robust maintenance programs, emphasising the critical role of water in healthcare service delivery.

Country Director for WaterAid Malawi, Peter Phiri, said the learning event aimed to identify and disseminate best practices in promoting proper water, sanitation, and hygiene in healthcare facilities.

He emphasised the need to strengthen the involvement of the health and water sectors in ensuring adequate Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services nationwide.

“Access to water remains a significant challenge in healthcare facilities, with statistics indicating that only three percent of facilities in Malawi have basic sanitation services. This underscores the pressing need for concerted efforts to improve the situation,” Phiri remarked.

He further emphasised the importance of maintaining sanitation facilities alongside improving access, stressing the necessity for comprehensive operation and maintenance programmes.

Since 2014, WaterAid has been implementing WASH programmes in healthcare facilities, benefitting 16 facilities in Kasungu, Machinga, and Nkhotakota, along with four facilities in Machinga alone.

Senior Chief Kasakula commended WaterAid for its efforts in enhancing water access in over eight healthcare facilities in Ntchisi, contributing to improved hygiene standards in the district.

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