U.S. Representatives Grace Meng, Earl Blumenauer, and Darin LaHood have introduced the bipartisan Global WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) in Healthcare Facilities Act. The bill aims to enhance U.S. efforts in increasing access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in healthcare facilities worldwide. The legislation aligns with a resolution being considered at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, which calls for sustainable and resilient healthcare facilities by 2030, with a focus on safe and universal access to water, sanitation, hygiene, waste, and electricity services.
If passed, the bill would require the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop and implement an action plan that aids partner governments in their objectives of improving access to WASH in healthcare facilities. The plan would also integrate WASH services into pandemic preparedness and response efforts and enhance accessibility to WASH at points of care for patients and healthcare workers.
The Representatives emphasize the importance of clean water, safe sanitation, and good hygiene in healthcare facilities in preventing the spread of infections. The Global WASH in Healthcare Facilities Act seeks to expand and enhance U.S. initiatives to increase access to WASH in healthcare facilities, which is crucial for global health security. By addressing these gaps, the legislation aims to prevent millions of infections annually.
The bill has garnered support from various organizations, including WaterAid, Faiths for Safe Water, World Vision, and Save the Children, among others. Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America, applauds the Representatives for recognizing the impact of WASH in healthcare facilities and believes that the legislation will contribute to the protection of human dignity and the saving of lives.
Access to clean water, safe sanitation, and good hygiene in healthcare facilities is essential for infection prevention and control, as well as the delivery of quality healthcare. However, alarming gaps exist in the provision of WASH services across many countries, with almost a quarter of healthcare facilities globally lacking basic water services and half without adequate handwashing facilities. The Global WASH in Healthcare Facilities Act aims to mitigate these gaps and address the contribution of poor hygiene in the spread of diseases like COVID-19.
The bill represents a significant step towards improving global health and economic security. Representative Meng serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, while Representatives Meng, Blumenauer, and LaHood co-chair the Global Water Security Caucus. The legislation has received endorsements from numerous organizations working in the field of water, sanitation, and hygiene.