Water sanitation hygiene

Health care facilities and waste

Health centre in Indonesia
WHO/SEARO/Nursila Dewi

Urgent action is needed to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as well as health care waste management in health care facilities. According to a 2015 WHO/UNICEF global review, over 1/3 of facilities lack a water source and a similar proportion lack water and soap for handwashing. Approximately 1/5 do not have improved sanitation and over half lack adequate systems for the safe disposal of health care waste.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and safe health care waste management in health care facilities are fundamental for the provision of quality, people-centered care. Such services also reduce health care associated infections, chemical hazards and risks to the community. They also increase trust and uptake of health services, increase efficiency and decrease cost of service delivery and improve staff morale. With huge gaps in current WASH services in health care facilities, WHO is working to improve WASH in health care facilities, including the safe management of health care waste, through a joint WHO/UNICEF global action plan. The plan aligns with and contributes directly to several Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 6 on safe management of water and sanitation and Goals 3.1, 3.2 and 3.8 reducing maternal mortality, ending preventable newborn deaths, and providing quality universal health coverage.

Further information about health care facilities and waste

Global and regional meeting reports