World Organization of Family Doctors

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
- Water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities

Family doctors, as one of the key providers of primary healthcare, face similar problems as the community in regards to working conditions. In many developing countries, access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in primary health care facilities is lower than in other service areas or types of facilities. WASH failures are even observed in developed countries. The management of clinical waste and maintaining hygienic environments to prevent healthcare acquired infections is of particular importance. Lack of WASH in health care facilities contributes to the unnecessary use of antibiotics and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Unsafe disposal of needles and syringes increases the risk of injury and the opportunity for reuse. At the same time, WASH information is rarely collected in health management information systems databases.

WONCA Working Party on Quality and Safety is convinced that incremental improvements, such as the installation of simple hand hygiene stations, colored waste bins, and hygiene training and mentorship, are measures that can be implemented rapidly while longer-term efforts to improve infrastructure are being planned. Such improvements may also have positive effects on WASH practices in communities. It will have an impact on staff morale and performance, improving staff dignity and their own safety.

WONCA is working on a new Accreditation Program which will include some of the WASH indicators to ensure quality care is provided from primary care settings where family doctors work.

WONCA, offers to cooperate with WHO and UNICEF to ensure the implementation of specific targets on WASH in health care facilities through the WONCA accreditation program, supporting the conduction of national assessments, and establishing and implementing standards on water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities on the domain of primary care in all countries.