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 Table of Contents  
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 56-57

Strengthening WASH facilities for the general population to accomplish universal access by 2030


1 Medical Education Unit, Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission14-Mar-2020
Date of Decision23-Mar-2020
Date of Acceptance10-May-2020
Date of Web Publication06-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ed.ed_10_20

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  Abstract 


The provision of drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities has been identified as one of the important goals required for the attainment of universal health coverage. However, billions of people across the globe are having poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). It is important to note that significant progress has been observed in ensuring access to WASH facilities since the start of the current century; nevertheless, massive gaps and inequalities persist in the field with regard to access, availability, and the quality of the offered services. Another important aspect is that ensuring mere access to these facilities is not enough. The time has come wherein all the concerned stakeholders should commit themselves toward the realization of this essential and fundamental human right. In conclusion, the need of the hour is to minimize the inequality gaps in WASH facilities and that will essentially require a concerted and well-coordinated response from all the stakeholders, including the general population.

Keywords: Inequality, universal health coverage, WASH facilities


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Strengthening WASH facilities for the general population to accomplish universal access by 2030. Environ Dis 2020;5:56-7

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Strengthening WASH facilities for the general population to accomplish universal access by 2030. Environ Dis [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 25];5:56-7. Available from: http://www.environmentmed.org/text.asp?2020/5/2/56/289028




  Introduction Top


The provision of drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities has been identified as one of the important goals required for the attainment of universal health coverage.[1],[2] However, billions of people across the globe are having poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).[1] In fact, the available global estimates depicted that 2.2 billion and 4.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation amenities, respectively.[1] Further, close to 3 billion people are deprived of basic hand-washing facilities. These estimates clearly suggest that massive gaps exist in the quality of services provided to the general population worldwide.[1]


  Ground Reality: Epidemiological Attributes Top


It is important to note that significant progress has been observed in ensuring access to WASH facilities since the start of the current century; nevertheless, massive gaps and inequalities persist in the field with regard to access, availability, and the quality of the offered services.[1],[2],[3] If we consider the trends of open defecation, even though the estimates have reduced by almost 50%, but the alarming thing is that close to 700 million people are still practicing the same and that the practice is increasing in many nations.[1] The existing gaps pertaining to WASH have become even wider in residents living in rural and remote locations and among people belonging to poor socioeconomic status.[2]

Another important aspect is that ensuring mere access to these facilities is not enough.[2] It is important to understand that if the available water is either unclean or unsafe to drink or quite far, it does not address the existing problem.[1] On similar lines, the presence of an unsafe or a toilet with limited facilities does not help with the cause, and indirectly we are not doing justice to the problem which has existed for centuries.[1],[2]


  Necessity for Up-Scaling Public Health Response Top


It is high time that the national governments should prioritize the issue and accordingly invest in the welfare of their communities, which will play a big part in neutralizing the existing financial and geographic disparity among the population groups.[4] This is definitely a challenging task considering the existence of multiple other public health challenges, but it is high time to introspect that the infectious diseases which are transmitted due to sub-standard WASH facilities actually should be in the history books.[1],[2],[3] Nevertheless, amidst ineffective actions and strategies, we have failed to accomplish the set targets.[1] The time has come wherein all the concerned stakeholders should commit themselves towards the realization of this essential and fundamental human right.[1],[2] Our aim should be to intensify our efforts and action to ensure that we must meet the set target of universal access by the year 2030.[1]

The findings of an epidemiological intervention study in the rural settings of northwest Ethiopia, wherein the intervention was a WASH education program targeting households in the area, the overall access to adequate sanitation and to protected water sources showed an increase by 8% and 7%, respectively.[5] In addition, there was a remarkable rise in the proportion of households who improved their water safety, sanitation, personal hygiene, and food safety practices subsequent to the intervention.[5] The findings of another interventional study done in Kenya revealed that by the implementation of an integrated socio-behavioral change intervention, there was a significant improvement in the WASH and nutrition-related behaviors among the study population.[6] Moreover, the results of another study concluded that better utilization of the WASH facilities brought about a proportionate decline in the incidence of trachoma cases in the study settings.[7] All these findings clearly explain the role of WASH facilities in improving the various health outcomes and, thus the quality of life of the general population.[5],[6],[7]


  Conclusion Top


The need of the hour is to minimize the inequality gaps in WASH facilities and that will essentially require a concerted and well-coordinated response from all the stakeholders, including the general population.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
United Nations Children's Fund, World Health Organization. Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2017: Special Focus on Inequalities. New York: WHO Press; 2019. p. 1-24.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Improving the drinking water supply universally and bridging the existing gaps. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:529-30.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
3.
Russell F, Azzopardi P. WASH: A basic human right and essential intervention for child health and development. Lancet Glob Health 2019;7:e417.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Necessity to augment the financial investment in the water, sanitation, and hygiene services worldwide. Environ Dis 2017;2:67-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
  [Full text]  
5.
Gizaw Z, Addisu A. Evidence of households' water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) performance improvement following a WASH education program in rural Dembiya, Northwest Ethiopia. Environ Health Insights 2020;14:1178630220903100.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Jacob Arriola KR, Ellis A, Webb-Girard A, Ogutu EA, McClintic E, Caruso B, et al. Designing integrated interventions to improve nutrition and WASH behaviors in Kenya. Pilot Feasibility Stud 2020;6:10.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Altherr FM, Nute AW, Zerihun M, Sata E, Stewart AE, Gessese D, et al. Associations between Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and trachoma clustering at aggregate spatial scales, Amhara, Ethiopia. Parasit Vectors 2019;12:540.  Back to cited text no. 7
    




 

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