A local non-governmental organization, Shalom Incorporated, in partnership with WaterAid Liberia, through its newly established program ‘Healthy Start,’ has recommended to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and stakeholders in the WASH sector to improve the health and nutrition of newborn babies and children in Liberia.
Ms. Lusu Gibson, WASH Officer at Shalom Inc., who spoke yesterday at the Ministry, said MOH officials need to ensure that life at birth is being protected through a clean and safe delivery setting.
Tragically, for the one in five babies who dies in the first month in the developing world, she said just being washed in clean water and cared for in a clean environment by people who have washed their hands could have prevented this death.
Ms. Gibson highlighted the risks presented to babies by healthcare facilities that do not offer a hygienic birth environment.
She said a good number of healthcare facilities lack clean water supply and improved sanitation that contributes to nosocomial (any disease contracted by a patient while under medical care) infections.
According to her, this is not a newly found solution but rather a call for coordinated action to end injustice against babies.
She pointed out that being born in unhygienic conditions condemns too many babies in the developing world and particularly in Liberia to a tragically early and avoidable death, and their parents to needless heartbreak.
She further stressed that the ability to keep a hospital or clinic clean is such a fundamental requirement of health care that one has to question whether a facility without clean running water or basic sanitation can adequately serve its patients.
“We need everyone involved in leading and shaping health services to work together to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society do not have their life expectancy reduced to mere weeks because facilities are unable to meet the most basic standards of clean and safe care,” Ms. Gibson emphasized.
She urged health care facilities in the country to ensure that clean running water, safe toilets and sinks with soap are available to staff and patients.
Ms. Gibson also vowed that her organization will do its best to advocate for access to water, sanitation and hygiene to be integrated into health policies locally and nationally.
Healthy Start is WaterAid’s four-year advocacy priority that focuses on improving the health and nutrition of newborn babies and children and was launched last year in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.