By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – One of the local Partners of Water Liberia, “Serving Humanity with Affection, Love and Open Mind (SHALOM)”, has put forward several key recommendations to the Health Ministry and stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of Liberia with focus on the “Healthy Start” Initiative.
Healthy Start is aimed at creating a world of healthy beginning for new born and children through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene availability at birth in health facilities in Liberia.
The recommendations among other things advanced by SHALOM called for WASH to be mainstreamed in all health plans for reducing under nutrition, acute malnutrition, preventable childhood diseases, newborn deaths and ensure finances are made available and used accordingly.
It also called for every healthcare facility to have clean running water, safe toilets for patients separated for men and women with locks and lights, friendly latrines for children and accessible to people with disabilities, well functional sinks and soap for health workers and patients in all treatment and birth rooms.
SHALOM also recommended that no new health care facilities are built without adequate, sustainable water and sanitation services.
The organization further recommended that healthcare system remains committed to good hygiene practices and promotion in professional training, plans and actions as well as staff and patients are informed and empowered to practice safe hygiene measures.
SHALOM stressed in its recommendations monitoring and assessment of progress towards universal health coverage to include data on availability of water, sanitation and hygiene services at healthcare facilities and household levels to inform strategies and planning; international and national health nutrient initiatives be comprehensive in their WASH policies to ensure they are financed, monitored and delivered.
The recommendations highlighted that every birth center ensures basic hygiene and sterile conditions, mainly in delivery and operating rooms, such as hand washing with soap, repeated cleaning and disinfection of facilities and separation of waste.
Speaking recently at the close of a One Day Interactive Forum held under the Healthy Start Initiative at the Health Ministry in Congo Town-Monrovia, SHALOM WASH Officer, Lusu Gibson said the recommendations required a collaborative efforts of national government, civil society organizations, health practitioners and citizens to ensure that life at birth is being protected just through a clean and safe delivery setting.
Also speaking, WaterAid Liberia Policy Officer, Patience Zayzay underscored the need of working together to improve WASH at various health facilities across Liberia.
Ms Zayzay disclosed that WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone as part of its plan was able to ensure that WASH facilities were done at three health centers in Montserrado County.
She said the entity will work with SHALOM, the Health Ministry, other government related WASH Ministries and Agencies, including international WASH organizations to improve WASH facilities at clinics and hospitals.
For his part, WASH Coordinator at the Health Ministry, Wataku Kortumia said there are lots of challenges confronting the WASH sector but through working together these issues can be addressed.
Meanwhile, WASH/Health Care Waste Supervisor for Montserrado County Health Team, Leemu Tarpeh said much more needs to be done by WASH related entities in Liberia to tackle WASH issues which are vital to good health.
The One Day Healthy Start Advocacy Engagement highlighted the overview of healthy Start Project, Pictorial on Healthy Start activities, Health Ministry intervention to improving WASH for newborn since the Project was launched, how are health facilities monitored and evaluated in terms of WASH and WASH inclusion in nutrient plans, among others.
WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone in partnership with the Ministry of Health in 2015 launched “Healthy Start”, showcasing the devastating impact that a lack of safe water and sanitation has on children in developing countries.