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Water & Sanitation
This report provides an overview of the key achievements, impacts, lessons learnt and challenges faced as we embarked on our new project to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in rural Cambodian healthcare facilities (HCF’s). As per the original plan, the project is progressing well and is on budget.
WaterAid is pleased to share our progress and acknowledges the generosity of all those who have contributed in helping us to make a start on our journey towards improving and upgrading facilities and hygiene knowledge in healthcare facilities across Kampong Chhang, Kampong Thom and Thbong Khmom provinces in Cambodia.
In October 2014, in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) WaterAid Australia undertook research in two rural provinces in Cambodia, to understand the status of water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities, particularly those that provide services in maternal and newborn health. We found:
With these findings in mind, WaterAid has embarked on this new project with an overall goal of protecting the health and safety of mothers and their newborn babies when accessing services in a Cambodian healthcare facility.
In order to make significant and sustainable improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities, we have worked hard to establish strong relationships with government partners.
Starting with a formal meeting with the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Health, His Excellency Professor Eng Huot was presented with a clear message that WASH in healthcare facilities is essential to basic quality of care and a fundamental part of infection prevention control. He not only agreed with its importance for improving health in Cambodia but also reinforced it, stating, “Without water, healthcare facilities can’t reach the infection prevention control standard.”
This initial meeting led to an official memorandum of understanding between WaterAid Cambodia and the Ministry of Health to work in partnership towards the goal of jointly improving healthcare facilities. We are now working with government and are taking the first steps to assess HCF’s across the following five standards:
Water, sanitation and hygiene activities to improve the standards of care in Cambodian hospitals and healthcare facilities included:
The process of contextualising a standardised WASH assessment to fit the Cambodian context required more time than we envisaged. There was an expectation that the global assessment tool would be fit for purpose in Cambodia but in reality, changes were needed.
Once the assessment tool was modified, steps were taken to create leadership/ownership with Ministry of Health staff, this also took more time and investment than we first thought and required considerable amounts of orientation, learning initiatives and training at both the national and sub-national level.
“It is very good now we have the clean water because we can use the water to clean the materials. Before, we used water from the well and it was not safe to clean materials with this water because it had viruses. So it’s very good for me now I have access to use clean water here.
“When we used the water from the well, patients often became sick but now they are less sick. And, they have more money because they don’t have to spend money to buy bottled water. We always inform the patients that they can drink this water. It makes me very happy.”
The ‘Putting the lives of mothers and babies in safe (clean) hands’ project will continue to work in partnership with the Ministry of Health, National Institute for Public Health, World Health Organisation, Nossal Institute and other research partners and local and international NGO’s. This joint effort will bring sanitation, water and hygiene standards in health care facilities to a minimum standard in Cambodia.