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World Health Organization, UNICEF. Water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities: Status in low-and middle-income countries and way forward. 2015. (accessed 28 September 2016)

Working to put clean water at the heart of health care

02 October 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 10

Nearly 3 years after giving birth to my daughter, I'm still haunted by the memory of bleeding heavily, alone with my newborn, just 10 days later. As I waited, anxiously and in pain, for an ambulance, my mind was a jumble of thoughts from urgent to bizarre: what was happening? Was my baby OK? What would the paramedics think about the state of my living room?

Reflecting on my own trauma now, I wonder what my chances would have been in a country where the medical facilities were less well-equipped. The ambulance, safe roads, close proximity to a hospital and trained medical staff all contributed to my survival, but what I absolutely took for granted—both during the birth, and when complications occurred later—is that the hospital in which I was being treated would be clean. The doctors, nurses and midwives who treated me so well had a constant supply of clean water and soap with which to wash their hands. The equipment used at the birth and, later, during emergency surgery was sterilised and hygienic. And like all the other patients in the hospital, I had access to a clean toilet.

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