Thursday December 12, 2019

Two Billion People Lack Access to Clean Water and Good Hygiene: UN

"A health care facility without water is not really a health care facility," said UNICEF statistician Tom Slaymaker

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FILE - Refugees in Rwanda wait in lines for food, water, soap and other necessities that are in short supply. VOA

A quarter of the world’s health facilities lack basic water services, impacting 2 billion people, the United Nations said on Wednesday, warning that unhygienic conditions could fuel the global rise of deadly superbugs.

In the poorest countries, about half of facilities do not have basic water services — meaning water delivered by pipes or boreholes that protect it from feces — putting birthing mothers and newborns in particular danger, new data showed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said more than 1 million deaths a year were associated with unclean births, and 15 percent of all patients attending a health facility developed infections.

“Hospitals are not necessarily points of care where you can heal, but points of almost infection. (We) are very alarmed by this,” WHO public health coordinator Bruce Gordon told a media briefing in Geneva.

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The agencies said good water and sanitation services were crucial to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest global health threats. Wikimedia

Worldwide, nearly 900 million people have no water at all at their local health facility or have to use unprotected wells or springs. One in five facilities also lack toilets, impacting about 1.5 billion people, the agencies said.

One of the development goals agreed by world leaders in 2015 was for all to have access to safe water and sanitation by 2030.

“A health care facility without water is not really a health care facility,” said UNICEF statistician Tom Slaymaker.

“Sick people shed a lot more pathogens in their feces, and without toilets, staff, patients — this includes mothers and babies — are at a much greater risk of diseases caused and spread through human waste.”

The agencies said good water and sanitation services were crucial to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest global health threats.

 

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Water delivered by pipes or boreholes that protect it from feces — putting birthing mothers and newborns in particular danger, new data showed. Wikimedia

International charity WaterAid said rising rates of superbugs had been linked to poor sanitary conditions in health facilities which lead to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.

Helen Hamilton, WaterAid policy analyst, said the data revealed the “often-deplorable conditions” in which health workers were trying to help patients.

“The battle to save lives, and to slow the rise of deadly superbugs which threaten us all, cannot be won as long as these dedicated frontline staff are denied … the fundamentals of health care,” she said.

She urged governments to prioritize the issue when they meet at next month’s World Health Assembly in Geneva.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said more than 1 million deaths a year were associated with unclean births, and 15 percent of all patients attending a health facility developed infections. Wikimedia

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The data showed that West Africa had some of the lowest rates of access to water and sanitation.

WaterAid said this was alarming given that a lack of clean water and good hygiene had contributed to the spread of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in the region, which killed more than 11,300 people between 2013 and 2016. (VOA)

Next Story

Make-up Products Contain Dangerous Bacteria: Study

Life-threatening bacteria found in Make-up products

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Make-up products
Our daily make-up products are contaminated with dangerous superbugs. Pixabay

The vast majority of in-use make-up products such as beauty blenders, mascara and lip gloss are contaminated with potentially life threatening superbugs, researchers have warned.

“Make-up products used every day by millions of people in the UK are contaminated with potentially deadly bugs, such as E.coli and Staphylococci, because most are not being cleaned and are used far beyond their expiry dates,” said study lead author Amreen Bashir from Aston University in the US.

According to the study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, bacteria that can cause illnesses ranging from skin infections to blood poisoning if used near eyes, mouth or cuts or grazes were found in nine out of ten of the products.

This risk is amplified in immunocompromised people who are more likely to contract infections from opportunistic bacteria.

The relatively new beauty blenders – sponges used to apply skin foundation products – were found to have the highest levels of potentially harmful bacteria – with the vast majority (93 per cent) not having ever been cleaned, despite more than two thirds (64 per cent) being dropped on the floor at some point during use.

The research looked at beauty blender products – hugely popular make-up sponges used to blend foundation and contouring on the face.

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The make-up products are contaminated by bacteria due to poor hygiene. Pixabay

Often endorsed by celebrities, these sponges are estimated to have sold over 6.5 million worldwide.

The researchers found these products are particularly susceptible to contamination as they are often left damp after use, which creates an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

“Consumers’ poor hygiene practices when it comes to using make-up, especially beauty blenders, is very worrying when you consider that we found bacteria such as E.coli – which is linked with faecal contamination – breeding on the products we tested,” Bashir said.

The findings reveal that consumers are unwittingly putting themselves at risk, and that manufacturers and regulatory bodies should do more to protect their customers by making expiry dates and cleaning requirements more prominent on packaging.

EU guidance holds make-up brands to strict hygiene standards of manufacture and states that E.coli in particular should not be found in any concentration in new cosmetic products.

Also Read- This Face Mask Can Prevent Apnoea at Night

However, there is currently limited consumer protection around the risks of contaminating products while in use.

According to the study, post-Brexit, UK consumers could be at even greater risk as they will no longer be protected by EU regulations and could find themselves purchasing more beauty products from the US – for example – where there are no regulatory requirements to put expiry dates on make-up packaging at all. (IANS)