The founder of Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki on Friday announced that the Foundation would embark upon a major global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) campaign.
Mrs Saraki said this during the launch of the campaign in Abuja following a meeting with Dr. Wondi Alemu, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Nigeria. The WBFA will work with partners including Global Water 2020, an initiative based in Washington D.C. which is designed to accelerate progress toward water access and security for all people in developing countries, with a particular focus on increasing the availability of WASH in healthcare centres.
"I am delighted that the WBFA is partnering with Global Water 2020 and others to improve WASH facilities at healthcare centres and schools around the world."
"In an analysis of 129,000 healthcare facilities in the developing world, researchers found more than 65 percent of facilities lack both running water and soap for handwashing. This endangers not only patients and staff but presents a danger to all of society, as health facilities become unable to contain diseases."
"Here in Nigeria, the WHO found that 29% of healthcare facilities do not have access to safe water and toilets, whilst a WaterAid survey revealed that half of primary health facilities do not have handwashing facilities in delivery rooms. Pregnant women and newborns are thereby placed in huge danger and at risk of sepsis, which is a leading cause of death in hospitals. As the Founder-President of the WBFA, I work with our midwives to ensure that mother and baby are safe from birth through to age. Without adequate WASH facilities, however, midwives all over the world are unable to safely carry out their crucial work - and to lead the way with quality care."
"This campaign will also champion the improvement of WASH facilities in schools. The physical environment and cleanliness of schools significantly affects the health and well-being of children. Too often, they are spaces where disease spreads quickly, without hand-washing facilities, soap or suitable toilets. Together, we will create a world where all children go to school and all schools provide a safe, healthy and comfortable environment where children grow, learn and thrive."
"As we join the international community on May 5th in observing World Hand Hygiene Day and International Day of the Midwife, it is clear that the themes of both days are deeply interconnected. We in the global health and development communities can no longer stand by in silence while mothers and newborns die from preventable and unnecessary complications, simply because the most basic of WASH services are not available," she said.
Dr. Wondi Alemu, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Nigeria, added that: "We know that health facilities must be a focus for us to concentrate on patient safety - handwashing is key for all facilities, including in primary healthcare. Implementing hygiene standards in health centres will bring down disease transmission. I would like to assure you that the whole of WHO supports the foundation in this campaign and I commit myself as the WHO representative to support you. We must prioritise hygiene and I thank Mrs Saraki for her visit today."
On his part, John Oldfield, a Principal at Global Water 2020 said that the group is inspired and motivated by the Secretary General's Call to Action for WASH in healthcare facilities, and by the initiative of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.
The launch of WBFA's campaign follows the UN Secretary General's call to action on WASH in healthcare facilities in March and coincides with the WHO's 'Save Lives: Clean your Hands' campaign day, which takes place on 5th May each year. The 5th May is also 'International Day of the Midwife,' with the theme this year being 'Midwives leading the way with quality care.'