Honourable chair and delegates, WaterAid welcomes the reports on UHC.
We commend the recognition of the need for a multi-sectoral approach to UHC and Primary Health Care that integrates health-promotion and systematically seeks to address the underlying determinants of health.
However, we are concerned by the lack of progress on addressing the social and environmental determinants of health. Silos between health and other sectors such as water, sanitation and hygiene continue to exist, undermining efforts to address all aspects of UHC.
Globally one in nine people lack access to clean water close to home, one in three lack adequate sanitation and over a third of healthcare facilities in low- and middle-income countries lack even rudimentary access to water. The dangerous consequences of this include the inability to prevent and control disease outbreaks, undermining safe quality healthcare delivery, and contributing to the rising threat of AMR. A central premise of Primary Health Care is the emphasis on promotion and prevention, however without ensuring adequate water, sanitation and hygiene for communities and healthcare facilities, sustainable Primary Health Care and UHC cannot be achieved.
We call on Member States, WHO and partners to:
- Ensure minimum standards of WASH are recognised as core components of PHC and strong health systems, aligned with the Global Action Plan on WASH in healthcare facilities;
- Establish strong multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms with active involvement of relevant sectoral ministries underpinning health and ensure adequate financing to deliver all aspects of UHC;
- Ensure the UN High Level meeting on UHC provides concrete actions to ensure a multi-sectoral approach, including engaging the WASH sectors.
- Finally, we urge Member States to support the proposed World Health Assembly resolution on WASH in Healthcare Facilities, to drive urgent action on the foundations for UHC.