WaterAid says that Nigeria will lose 0.94 per cent of its GDP each year and 3.8 per cent of its health budgets to infections caused by the lack of handwashing facilities, clean water and decent toilets.

This is contained in a statement issued by WaterAid on Thursday in Lagos.

The statement said that at least half of these infections could be prevented by improved water, sanitation and hygiene – saving at least 93,600 lives every year, as well as billions of dollars.

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According to the statement, WaterAid is calling for increased finance from donor countries, multilateral development banks and the private sector to support Nigeria’s national action plans.

It said that the plans would ensure every healthcare facility across Nigeria had clean water, sanitation and hygiene services

It said that infections acquired in healthcare facilities are costing Nigeria 4500 million dollars each year leading to thousands of preventable deaths.

It added that at least half of these infections could be prevented by improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in these facilities, WaterAid unveils today in brand new research.

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“The new data, using World Bank methodology highlights that, if healthcare-acquired infections were to halve, then at least 93,600 lives could be saved across Nigeria every year.

“And a staggering 303 million dollars could be saved from the national budget and invested into critical sectors of the economy to drive growth and address poverty.

“Nigeria is one of seven African countries featured in the data alongside Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Mali and Ghana.

“In total, the new data shows that infections caused by lack of handwashing facilities, clean water and decent toilets are costing Sub-Saharan Africa 8.4 billion dollars each year.

“The new data shows that poor cleanliness and hygiene during medical care and recovery are major causes of infection transmissions,” The statement said.
According to WaterAid, the most common healthcare-acquired infections are surgical site infections, bloodstream infections and respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia.

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It noted that the highest rates were found in intensive care units, neonatal wards and pediatric medical wards.

The statement said that the findings paint a bleak picture, not only of the needless loss of life from entirely preventable causes, but of the fact these infections cost an average of 0.94 per cent of the country’s GDP.

It stressed that treating the illnesses consumes an average 3.8 per cent of total health budgets each year.

“This is a cost that will only increase as a greater share of these infections becomes resistant to antibiotics, warns WaterAid.

“Right now, only six per cent of healthcare facilities in Nigeria have access to clean water and/or decent toilets.

“The continued suffering caused by these infections in lower-middle income countries only highlights the deep inequalities within global society.

“It also highlights the inadequacy of sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene access among the most vulnerable communities.

“Increased investment from donors and international financial institutions for health care facilities is essential to break the chain of infection.

“Decrease the demand for antibiotics and reduce the opportunity for a resistant infection to become dominant,” the statement said.

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WaterAid is calling on the government of Nigeria, UN Member States the G7 and G20 Presidencies to make sure every healthcare facility, everywhere, has clean WASH services – our first line of defence against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) for both people living this reality daily and the global economy.
WaterAid appeals to donor countries, multilateral development banks, and other financing sources to support local governments with financing as a matter of priority to tackle the AMR crisis and to deliver improved water, sanitation and hygiene, as identified in country national action plans.

Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said:
“Healthcare workers in Nigeria are faced each day with the occupational hazard of picking up infectious diseases when they are unable to wash their hands after interacting with patients.
It makes it difficult to get their work done. In various circumstances they are expected to fetch water, take care of the needs of patients which puts additional burden on them.
The recent WaterAid’s publication on the costs of healthcare acquired infections due to lack of WASH demonstrates the need for immediate action as HAI is costing Nigeria’s economy millions of dollars.
We call on the government and all stakeholders to act with a sense of urgency to avoid preventable deaths and free up resources that can be invested into enhancing the rights, dignity and welfare of Nigerians.”

The statement said that the new data comes ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on AMR in September.

It said that the meeting woud see global leaders gather to discuss the critical need for all countries to prepare and fight against future pandemics and antimicrobial resistance.

“Clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene are the first line of defence against infections in healthcare settings.

“Yet WaterAid says that half of the world’s healthcare facilities do not have basic hygiene services – rising to two thirds across the 46 least developed countries.

“When hospitals and clinics do not have these essential services, infections can rapidly spread – putting all patients, including new mothers and babies, at risk and leaving doctors with little choice but to prescribe antibiotics.

Bilikisu Ahmed, Officer-in-Charge of Kekeshi Primary Healthcare Centre, Abuja, laments the state of water, sanitation and hygiene in primary healthcare centres.
She highlighted the strong link between water, sanitation and hygiene and the spread of infectious diseases.
“Patients come to the hospital with diarrhoea and vomiting and they have to rush to the bush because of the lack of toilets.
“Even we the staff when we are pressed we have to start rushing home
We all know how essential water is, especially in a primary healthcare.
“In this era of COVID-19, we do not have a source of water in Kekeshi Primary Healthcare.
“What will become of us the staff not to talk of the community as a whole?”

The statement noted that presently, 68million people still live without clean water and 113million without access to a decent toilet.

WaterAid’s goal is to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to these basics.

This can only be achieved in collaboration other stakeholders