It is 2022, when the focus all over the world is on major developments and the introduction of technology in the health sector, including government hospitals, but in Jammu and Kashmir, sanitation and hygiene are still big challenges.
A visit to a Valley hospital is enough to determine the extent of rot in health institutions in the UT. The scenes of attendants sitting along with the dogs and medical disposal surrounded by dirty water, lack of cleanliness and sanitation ridicule the claims of authorities that they are maintaining proper sanitation in the hospital.
Poor sanitation conditions in government hospitals like Lal Ded (LD) maternity hospital, Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, Chest Disease (CD) hospital, Super Speciality Hospital Shireen Bagh, Bone and Joint Hospital, Barzulla, and other GMC associated hospitals, including district and subdistrict hospitals, which come under the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) across the valley, present a grim picture and sorry state of affairs. Even few private hospitals, like Modern Hospital and others that take a hefty amount of money from the patients, have horrible sanitation conditions.
Scattered medical waste outside the windows, stinking air, and dusty machines are how patients summarise the state of sanitation inside the government hospitals in the valley. In some hospitals, garbage can be seen under and on the stairs inside the hospital premises. Besides, the washrooms are dirty, which can cause infections in the patients.
Hospitals have to shape up and maintain very high standards of cleanliness. We cannot have disease spread within hospitals. These dirty conditions are risking the lives of people.
Sheema (name changed), an expecting mother who has medical complications said that doctors are suggesting her to get admitted at LD hospital. But the nauseating washrooms make her health conditions worse.
“I had complications during my pregnancy that is why doctors suggested a government hospital but I prefer a private hospital. Washrooms in the government hospital are torture for the patients. Whenever I go to the washroom, I start vomiting. I want to go home,” she said.
Even in district hospitals, dirty conditions forced many patients to leave the hospital.
The patients also complain of spotting cats, dogs and rats that raise concerns and further deteriorate the conditions of the hospitals, examples are CD hospital, SMHS and LD hospital.
Hospitals in the city should be clean. The patients are already prone to infections. And if trash is scattered all over the hospital and washrooms are stinky and dirty, the risk of infection increases. The hospital administration needs to maintain the cleanliness of the hospital to ensure the safety of the patients.
Zahida said that the cats are the visitors in many government hospitals. “Even they are seen in the labour rooms as well,” she said.
However, senior officials at the hospitals said that people are also responsible for the uncleanliness of the hospitals. “Irresponsible behaviour of the people causes sanitation problems in the hospitals. Thousands of patients are visiting the hospitals and If people would cooperate then only there is a possibility of proper sanitation,” they said.
Proper management of the hospitals have become a tough task due to which they are causing great inconvenience to the patients as well as to the staff.
In Jammu and Kashmir, government hospitals including maternity hospitals, wards, nursing homes and other health care facilities (government or private) should be improved. The authorities at the hospitals should ensure that they all have adequate provisions for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
Some countries have reviewed the situation in Health Care Facilities (HCFs) and identified gaps that are now addressed through improving infrastructures, building national capacity and coordinating efforts to ensure that WASH becomes standard practice in every health care service.
For infection prevention control, reductions in antibiotic resistance, and safe health services for all, HCFs must have good water, sanitation, and hygiene. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the key vulnerabilities in these provisions. WASH services at HCFs are sometimes taken for granted, yet they are now more important than ever for patient and staff safety.
According to the reports, to provide quality care, healthcare facilities need to have a safe and accessible water supply; clean and safe sanitation facilities; hand hygiene facilities at points of care and at toilets; and appropriate waste disposal systems.
The U.N. General Assembly recognizes the global health crisis created by this lack of WASH infrastructure and services in healthcare facilities and has called for basic WASH services in all healthcare facilities by 2030 under Sustainable Development Goal. However, until this ambitious goal is achieved, millions of people will remain at risk due to unsafe WASH conditions in healthcare settings.
The term “WASH in health care facilities” refers to the provision of water, sanitation, health care waste management, hygiene and environmental cleaning infrastructure, and services across all parts of a facility. Health care facilities encompass all formally recognized facilities that provide health care, including primary (health posts and clinics), secondary, and tertiary (district or national hospitals), public and private (including faith-run), and temporary structures designed for emergency contexts (e.g., cholera treatment centers). They may be located in urban or rural areas.
WASH services in health care facilities fall short of WHO and national standards. The availability of WASH services, especially in maternity and primary-care settings where they are often absent, supports core universal health care aspects of quality, equity, and dignity for all people. Basic WASH services in health care facilities are fundamental to providing quality care and for ensuring that primary health commitments, as detailed in the Astana Declaration, are achieved.
In 2019, WHO and UNICEF published two landmark reports on WASH in health care facilities. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report presents global indicators and baselines for water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management and environmental cleaning services in health care facilities. The WHO and UNICEF report on Practical Steps highlights actions that countries are taking to improve the condition of WASH in health care facilities.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.