Seventy two thousand forty five (72,045) Primary Health Centres (PHC), Sub-Centres (SC), and Community Health Centres (CHC) in India are without toilet facilities for their staff, and 1,15,484 are without separate toilets for male and female patients, according to the reply given by the Union Health Ministry in the Lok Sabha, last week, with States including Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Maharashthra leading the list.
The Ministry has quoted the 2018 Rural Health Statistics, which provides updated information on rural health infrastructure and the requirements of public health facilities in rural areas. The World Health Organisation (WHO), speaking about the need for adequate sanitation facilities, including access to clean water, points out that no one goes to a healthcare facility to take ill.
“People go to get better, to deliver babies or to get vaccinated to the hospital and health facilities. Yet hundreds of millions of people face an increased risk of infection by seeking care in health facilities that lack basic necessities, including water, sanitation, hygiene, healthcare waste management and cleaning services. As per its estimates, 896 million people use healthcare facilities with no water service and 1.5 billion use facilities with no sanitation service,”’ noted the WHO.
The Organisation added that it’s likely many more people are served by healthcare facilities lacking hand hygiene facilities and safe waste management. Compared to hospitals, non-hospitals are twice as likely to have no water or sanitation services, it said. In most of Asia, one in ten facilities have no water service.
According to the best practices prescribed and accepted worldwide for a healthcare facility, there should be at least one toilet dedicated for staff, at least one sex-separated toilet with menstrual hygiene facilities, and at least one toilet accessible for people with limited mobility. Also, there should be functional hand hygiene facilities (with water and soap and/ or alcohol-based hand rub) are available at points of care, and within five metres of toilets.