Investing $600m in water and toilets in health care facilities could help stave off the next pandemic and save millions of lives – WaterAid – World

Providing clean water and toilets in all health facilities in the world’s poorest countries would cost the equivalent of just under an hour and a half of this weekend’s Easter spending in the United States and in the UK.[1]according to a new WaterAid analysis published today.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of finance ministers from the world’s richest economies in Washington, WaterAid is calling on donor governments to invest $600 million a year – which would help save millions of lives and be an important defense against the next pandemic , the charity said. .

WaterAid’s analysis builds on research recently published in The Lancet[2]focusing on the lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities in the 46 least developed countries where the needs for drinking water and sanitation are the highest and the largest funding gap.

The charity said investment in clinics and hospitals in these countries is more urgent than ever, with pandemics and antimicrobial resistance becoming a growing health threat.[3]. Currently, only half of the health facilities in the least developed countries have water on site. Additionally, poorer countries are struggling to respond due to the rising cost of living, economic impacts of COVID-19 and a debt crisis engulfing the global south, limiting the fiscal space to invest in essential services.

Claire Seaward, Global Campaigns Director, WaterAid, said: “A perfect storm

of COVID-19, the rising cost of living and the spiraling debt crisis mean that already stretched health services across the world are stretched to breaking point.

“As a result, patients may not receive the care they need – or worse, the clinics and hospitals they go to for treatment or to give birth are breeding grounds for disease. In low- and middle-income countries, more deaths are due to poor quality care than lack of access to care[4].

“Investing in water, toilets and hand hygiene saves lives, eases pressure on health services and protects patients and staff.

For just 2.6% of consumer money the UK and US will spend this Easter weekend, donor governments could save millions of lives and break the devastating cycle of debt , so that the poorest countries can provide for their own people.

Dr Maria Neira, director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at WHO Geneva, said. “Our price analysis shows that it would only take US$0.60/per capita/per year to provide universal WASH and waste management services in health facilities in 46 least developed countries. This is a modest cost compared to current government spending and donor investments in health and WASH, and it is entirely doable. The economic and social benefits of these fundamental investments are enormous, from the lives of mothers and newborns saved, the use of antibiotics avoided, to the retention of health workers.

WaterAid’s analysis reveals that 75% of global financing for water and sanitation is now in the form of loans while the ‘rule of thumb’ (established by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is that loans should not represent more than 10% of development finance.

As the external debt of low- and middle-income countries nearly doubled from $1.4 trillion in 2011 to $2.6 trillion in 2020, countries face a cycle of debt and debt dependence. regard to deepening external financing. Many countries are now paying more in debt than in health each year with 60%[5] low-income countries now officially in debt distress or at high risk.

WaterAid is calling on the world’s wealthiest countries, including the G7, which will meet in Germany in June, to close the US$600 million annual funding gap to provide lifesaving sanitation and hygiene facilities to health centers in some of the poorest countries by 2030.

To achieve this, major economies must meet their international aid commitments and ensure that the response to the crisis in Ukraine does not come at the cost of millions of lives elsewhere.


For more information please contact:

Jemima Young, Senior Media Officer, [email protected] or +44 (0) 207 793 4452

or call our after hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 55

Notes to editors:


A study published on April 7, 2022 in The Lancet revealed that approximately between US$6.5 billion and US$9.6 billion is needed from 2021 to 2030 to ensure water supply and sanitation in all health facilities. public in the poorest countries of the world. WaterAid’s analysis assesses the extent to which these costs can realistically be covered by LDC domestic resources. The identified financing gap once taken into account is approximately US$600 million per year.

In World Health Assembly Resolution 72.7, adopted unanimously in 2019, international, regional and local partners pledged “to help fill the gap in resource-limited settings by implementing efforts to provide WASH in health facilities”.[6]

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