Fundamentals First: Here are the key highlights of WHO-UNICEF report

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Around 2 billion people are vulnerable to COVID-19 and other diseases as they either use or work in health care facilities without basic water services, the report “Fundamentals First” said.

According to the report, immediate, incremental investments in WASH (Water, sanitation and hygiene) have better returns as it lowers down health care costs. It also saves time as health workers do not have to search for water for hand hygiene. This all accumulates to a return of USD 1.5 for every dollar invested.

“Working in a health care facility without water, sanitation and hygiene is akin to sending nurses and doctors to work without personal protective equipment. Water supply, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities are fundamental to stopping COVID-19. But there are still major gaps to overcome, particularly in least developed countries,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The report provides four main recommendations:

1. Implement costed national roadmaps with apt financing

2. Regularly review progress in improving WASH services, practices and the conducive environment

3. Develop capacities of health workforce and promote and practice good hygiene

4. Integrate WASH into regular health sector planning, budgeting, and programming