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WASH Wednesday: Preserving and Scaling hygiene in the NICU Lactation Care Project

If Nurses or Midwives cannot access clean water and proper sanitation, how can they deliver high-quality care?

A 2021 Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) composite analysis of access to WASH in health facilities revealed that the proportion of health facilities with access to basic water and sanitation services stands at 6% [1] and about 1 in 3 health facilities (30%) still lack an appropriate place to wash hands with soap to protect patients [including babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units(NICU)] and healthcare workers from catching and spreading deadly infections.

Results from the latest WASHNORM survey, showed that only 10 % of Nigeria's population had access to integrated basic WASH services and an estimated 48 million people still practice open defecation, which is a setback in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets 6.1 and 6.2 and serious threat to public health.

As we progressed into the NICU lactation care project, these dire statistics presented us with a reality #frontlineworkers faced in accessing and maintaining basic hygiene services.

Consequently, we took a deep dive into critically tackling this issue by creating a structure that would ensure a continuum of care for the neonates as well as the sustenance of the project in general. As a result, we put in place infrastructures such as Sterilisation equipment e.g Autoclaves and Refrigerators in Hospitals across Lagos, Kwara and Abuja to serve as necessary components to preserve the hygiene of human milk storage for infants in the NICU.

These donations were carried out to mitigate the associated risks and ensure hygienic last mile delivery of Own Mothers Milk (OMM) in NICUs at the Maitama District Hospital, Abuja. Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja, General Hospital, Ilorin, University of ilorin Teaching Hospital and Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos and was received by the Chief Medical Directors and top hospital Management in July 2022.

As we continue to advocate for hygiene behaviour change to provide better sanitation outcomes for maternal and child well-being, we call on concerned government institutions to intensify efforts to sustain and domesticate WASH policies at both national and sub-national levels to ensure quality health care reaches unserved and underserved communities.

Learn more about the donation and the Medela Cares on-the-spot assessment in Nigeria’s National Dailies - Vanguard, Punch, and The Nation.

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