A Post-COVID-19 Recovery will not be Possible if Water, Sanitation & Hygiene are not High on the Agenda

Michael, 34, a nurse at Wurm CHPS, Ghana, washes his hands. Every healthcare centre in the world’s poorest countries could have taps and toilets for just half-an-hour’s worth of COVID-19 spending. Credit: WaterAid / Apagnawen Annankra

By Helen Hamilton
LONDON, Apr 7 2021 – This World Health Day, G20 finance ministers will meet in Rome, Italy, to discuss how they will build back from the pandemic. The global economy is and concerted effort, coordination and imagination is needed to enable not only a worldwide recovery but also to ensure that the world’s poorest people are not left behind.

The World Health Organization has today urged countries to build a fairer, healthier world post-COVID-19. But this simply will not be possible if water, sanitation and hygiene are not high on the agenda.

Globally one in four healthcare facilities has no clean water on site. Indeed,1.8 billion people are at higher risk of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases because they use or work in a healthcare facility which lacks basic water services.

Trying to create a robust pandemic preparedness and response plan without ensuring that every healthcare facility has clean water and the ability to keep its patients, frontline health workers and premises clean is like building a fortress with a gaping hole where the door should be.

But in the world’s poorest countries – half of all hospitals and clinics have no clean water. This reality leaves healthcare workers and their patients, including mothers and newborns, at risk daily from deadly diseases and infections.

It also eases the way for new strains of disease to emerge and spread without the barriers of hygiene to overcome, creating risks not only for that community but frighteningly quickly, as we have seen with COVID-19, the rest of the world.

An investment of $1.2 billion from the G20 leaders would transform this situation. This amount would be enough to ensure every healthcare facility in the world’s poorest countries had the taps, toilets and handwashing facilities they so desperately need.

This might sound like a lot of money. But since the onset of Covid-19, rich countries have mobilised such huge sums, an average of nearly 10% of their GDP1, and a total of $20.6 trillion. The $1.2 billion investment WaterAid is calling for equates to just thirty minutes-worth of the past year’s spending.

Not only has research shown that washing hands with soap helps reduces the spread of coronaviruses by one third3 , it also helps limit the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Antibiotics are too often used in unclean health facilities in place of proper hygiene practices, and are losing their power to fight infections worldwide. This essential injection of finance by the G20 would prevent millions of avoidable deaths through infections and diseases.

Ernesta, Maternity Nurse, 25, treats eight-month-old Chirha at Matibane Health Centre in Mozambique. Credit: WaterAid / Eliza Powell

According to the World Health Organization, an investment of this nature would take just one year to pay for itself and produce savings for every dollar invested thereafter.4 But an ever-growing debt crisis is preventing poorer countries from being able to invest in basic water services, with some countries paying billions of dollars in international debt service each year.

Zambia, for example, paid over $2 billion in 2019, a staggering 11% of its Gross National Income and has since defaulted on its payments. Pakistan paid a huge $11 billion to service their debt in the same year – an amount which could pay for access to taps, toilets and handwashing facilities in hospitals across all of the least developed countries three times over.

A global poll of over 18,000 adults across 15 countries including the UK, Brazil, Nigeria, India, Australia and the USA,5 commissioned by WaterAid and conducted by YouGov, reveals that 75% of those surveyed believe that debt payments by the poorest countries (including to private sector creditors) should be suspended so that countries can invest more of their scarce resources into essentials like water and soap.

The poll showed that, for example, in Nigeria 87% of those polled agreed that their annual $5 billion debt servicing payments should be suspended. 80% of those polled in India agreed with the proposition.

True debt relief and restructuring, which the G20 could agree6, would radically change the economic prospects of poorer nations. With the means to invest, those countries could then make strategic economic decisions to tackle the immediate crisis whilst also protecting against future pandemics.

Debt service payments to governments are currently suspended but this suspension is due to end in June even as the global pandemic continues.

Investing in water, sanitation and hygiene is an obvious investment for governments and presents the opportunity both to save lives now and protect against future pandemics along with the devastation they cause.

It is vital that we make sure that getting universal access to soap and water to is given the same levels of drive and ambition that are accompanying the creation of vaccines, as well the finance that is being offered for stimulus packages and economic response.

The G20 leaders have an opportunity to make a difference this week. By committing to comprehensive debt relief along with new funding of at least $1.2 billion they can make sure all healthcare facilities in the poorest countries have clean water and soap before another pandemic hits.

1 9.7% according to study https://unctad.org/fr/node/31523 and Statista has Japan as largest at 20.9% of its GDP: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107572/covid-19-value-g20-stimulus-packages-share-gdp/
3 Beale S, Johnson A, Zambon M, null n, Hayward A, Fragaszy E. Hand Hygiene Practices and the Risk of Human Coronavirus Infections: https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/5-98
4 p3 https://washmatters.wateraid.org/sites/g/files/jkxoof256/files/everyone-everywhere-achieving-universal-health-coverage-through-water-sanitation-and-hygiene-uhc-day-action-plan_0.pdf Taken from WHO 2020 Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance through water, sanitation and hygiene and infection prevention and control in health care
5 Based on polling conducted by YouGov for WaterAid: 18,635 adults surveyed across 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, South Africa, UK, USA.   based on polling conducted by YouGov for WaterAid: 18,635 adults surveyed across 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, den, South Africa, UK, USA.  www.washmatters.wateraid.org/publications/public-support-wash-resilience. 
6 https://www.imf.org/en/About/FAQ/sovereign-debt#g20q1


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Leave a Reply

RSS Daily Times Nigeria

  • IPOB alleges eastern Governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and others are compiling their names
    Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a Nigerian separatist group, has claimed that the governors of the Eastern region, as well as the Igbo apex socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and others, are compiling a list of its members, including members of the Eastern Security Network, with the intention of handing it over to the APC-led Federal […]
  • Bishop Oyedepo: “I hope there is no agenda to deplete the population of this nation”
    Bishop David Oyedepo is the founder and presiding Bishop of the megachurch Faith Tabernacle in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria, and Living Faith Church Worldwide, also known as Winners’ Chapel International. He is a Nigerian preacher, Christian author, businessman, and architect. He responds to the news that some company told their workers that if they didn’t […]
  • Damasak: Nigerian Soldiers Overpower ISWAP Top Commander, Others
    Boko Haram senior commander Bukar Gana and scores of revenge fighters were killed on Thursday in Damasak, Borno State. After a week-long air and ground campaign in Mobbar Local Government Area, 12 high-value ISWAP commanders were neutralized. It’s also worth noting that Damasak has been attacked before and has always struggled. Despite the sinister activities […]
  • Chelsea 1-0 Man City: Hakim Ziyech’s goal puts Blues into FA Cup final
    Chelsea ended Manchester City’s quadruple bid as Hakim Ziyech’s goal secured a 1-0 win at Wembley to send Thomas Tuchel’s side through to the FA Cup final. Ziyech converted Timo Werner’s squared pass after Chelsea sprang the Manchester City offside trap 10 minutes into the second half and the goal proved decisive in a game […]

Weather for Abuja


RSS Vanguard News

  • Oil Spill: Don’t engage in ethnic conflict Rep member, Ereyitomi cautions Ijaw, Itsekiri youths
    The Member Representing Warri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Thomas Ereyitomi, has cautioned Gbaramatu Ijaw Youths and their Itsekiri neighbours not to engage in ethnic conflict because of crude oil spill that occurred at Chevron’s Abiteye and Utonana Fields in Delta State.  The  lawmaker, who acknowledged that agitations for a proper JIVRead […]
  • Alleged N69bn fraud: Olejeme’s return to face EFCC charges has vindicated me – Ubani 
    By Henry Ojelu Former 2nd Vice-President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Monday Ubani has said that the return of the former Chairman of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, Mrs Ngozi Olejeme to the country to face allegations of N69billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC has vindicated him of anyRead […]
  • Controversial terrorist comment: I’m now mature, know better, Pantami says
    As the controversy over affiliation with terrorist groups continues to mount, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has renounced his past comments. Pantami stated that for over a decade, he took the crusade on dangers of terrorism across major parts of the north, adding that he converted many young persons who have derailedRead […]

© 2021 Nigeria Newsline. All Rights Reserved. Log in -