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Health centres sans water may spur superbugs: United Nations

Worldwide, nearly 900 million people have no water at all at local health facilities or use water from unprotected wells or springs, state WHO and Unicef

WT24 Desk

A quarter of the world’s health facilities lack basic water services, impacting 2 billion people, the United Nations said on Wednesday, warning that unhygienic conditions could fuel the global rise of deadly superbugs, Reuters reports.

In the poorest countries, about half of facilities do not have basic water services — meaning water delivered by pipes or bore-holes that protect it from faeces — putting birthing mothers and newborns in particular danger, new data showed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) said more than 1 million deaths a year were associated with unclean births, and 15 percent of all patients attending a health facility developed infections.“Hospitals are not necessarily points of care where you can heal, but points of almost infection. (We) are very alarmed by this,” WHO public health co-ordinator Bruce Gordon said.

Worldwide, nearly 900 million people have no water at all at their local health facility or have to use unprotected wells or springs. One in five facilities also lack toilets, impacting about 1.5 billion people, the agencies said.

One of the development goals agreed by world leaders in 2015 was for all to have access to safe water and sanitation by 2030. “A health care facility without water is not really a health care facility,” said Unicef statistician Tom Slaymaker. “Sick people shed a lot more pathogens in their faeces, and without toilets, staff, patients — this includes mothers and babies — are at a much greater risk of diseases caused and spread through human waste.”

The agencies said good water and sanitation services were crucial to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest global health threats.

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