Disseminating the hands4health systemic approach to WASH in primary healthcare facilities and schools
The conference unites water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) professionals who are committed to improving public health by promoting the universal access to safe, affordable and sustainable WASH services. It provides a curated space where policymakers, practitioners and researchers gather to review the evidence, interrogate the science, and improve old and develop new approaches to expanding WASH access and services.
In 2023, hands4health was represented by FHNW and Ranas at the conference. Together with Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, the Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium, Terre des hommes (Tdh), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the hands4health partners carried out a side event entitled “The power of systemic-change oriented WASH initiatives: strengthening the health systems by tackling WASH in healthcare facilities”.
The goal of the session was to bring together implementers from NGOs and humanitarian agencies, WHO experts, and researchers from the fields of engineering and social sciences to discuss and share experiences in implementing programmes and projects focused on triggering a systemic change in WASH in healthcare facilities and strengthening healthcare in crisis areas and low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).
The session’s content included:
- An overview of the progress on WASH in health care facilities between 2000-2021, with a special focus on infection prevention and control (Rick Johnston, WHO).
- A presentation entitled “Beyond the Household: Measuring Experiences with WASH in Institutions” (Joshua Miller, UNC).
- The results and experiences from Benin and Nepal in implementing the WASH in Health Care Facility Improvement Tool – WASH FIT (Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium, represented by Sudarshan Neupane, Tdh and Christina Barstow, Helvetas).
- A review and gap analysis on existing approaches, tools, platforms and networks relevant to hand hygiene in institutional settings (Maryna Peter, FHNW).
- The experiences with implementing the systemic approach to WASH in primary healthcare facilities by the hands4health project partners in Mali and Burkina Faso (Maryna Peter, FHNW).
- An overview of the Ranas for Health Care Facilities Toolkit – Ranas4HCF, which is being developed and implemented within the framework of the hands4health project (Andrea Tamas, Ranas).
The session highlighted successful efforts that have led to increased national WASH budget allocations and harmonised institutional and legal frameworks, including monitoring and technical standards. Experiences from Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Nepal were shared, and insights on how to trigger investments in WASH through collaboration with regional health authorities were explored.
The interactive part of the session was carried out in an open forum/discussion format to enable high engagement with the participants. During the World Café-style discussions, the participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences on the following topics:
- Lessons learned from Mali, Burkina Faso, Nepal and Benin and the potential to implement and scale up systemic change-oriented approaches to WASH in other settings and contexts.
- How JMP data and research can further support evidence-based decision-making, implementation, and national and local government budget allocations strengthening WASH in health care systems.
- Poster “Developing and testing an easy-to-use toolkit to design tailored behavior change interventions” by Ranas: access here
- Poster “Budgeting and advocacy to improve WASH in healthcare facilities: A case study on using costs data to advance policy and practice” by Tdh, the Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium, Helvetas and the UNC Water Institute: access here
- Top-rated posters of the UNC Water & Health Conference 2023: access here.
- Other hands4health knowledge products: access here.