The Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire has said that many Nigerians seek treatment abroad because of the insanitary state of some of the country’s finest health care facilities.
Dr Ehanire, who stated this yesterday, lamented the poor state of hygiene and sanitation in some government hospitals such as general hospitals, federal medical centres and teaching hospitals.
He, therefore, urged hospitals, communities and families to make the issue of proper water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) a priority by providing adequate water and hygiene facilities and commodities, as water and vector-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, cholera, among others, are the greatest killers of children-about 60 per cent of all deaths in children under the age of five.
Ehanire made this known in Abuja during the launch of the National Guideline for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in health care facilities by the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), Federal Ministries of Water Resources, Environment, Works and Housing), WaterAid Nigeria, and other partners.
The guideline is to ensure the effective monitoring and integration of WASH into other national services for the improvement of health services, with the goal to institutionalise WASH in all facilities to deliver quality health care services.
He said: “It is sad that health facilities that are supposed to provide treatment for diseases are themselves not free of agents of diseases. It is terrible that you have a health care facility that is not practising disease prevention the way it should be.
It is critical that we have a professionally dug borehole with clear water in every primary health care centre. It is sad that even teaching hospitals in some places do not have these very simple facilities that we are talking about.
If you go to a very well-established tertiary hospital, you might be the best doctor or the most qualified, if a patient comes around and wants to see the doctor, but once he sees the sanitation and hygiene situation, he turns around, and we wonder about why people are going for medical tourism.
“Most of the time, it is not because of lack of equipment, trained doctors, but simple things such as housekeeping. Housekeeping drives people away from our hospitals, that is, water facilities for hand washing, sanitation and a hygienic environment. That is the first thing a person looks at when they get to a hospital. Poor Hygiene and sanitation rubbish the work of the health workers and facilities.”
The Chief of WASH for UNICEF, Jane Bevan said: “This is a process that UNICEF has supported throughout. I think we must not rest on our laurels to ensure that the guidelines are disseminated and utilised.
“We have supported the country to look at hygiene and WASH. We need the support of all the Ministries to ensure safe WASH in institutions. We are relying on our health institutions to be clean and safe. WASH in Nigeria is hovering around 20 per cent.
“I urge all to ensure this is given high priority to make sure they are regularly clean.”