The critical need for WASH in emergency preparedness in health settings, the case of COVID-19 pandemic in Kisumu Kenya Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The devastating effects of inadequate basic utilities such as water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management and environmental cleaning (WASH) is underscored by the current global pandemic declared on March 11, 2020. This paper explores the experiences of key informants (n = 15) ie government and non-government organization officials on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in health care facilities (HCFs) and the role of WASH in emergency preparedness in health settings and the communities they serve using Kisumu, Kenya as a case study. The results from interviews with the key informants indicate socioecological challenges shaping access to hygiene services in HCFs and related disparities in social determinants of health such as WASH that serve as barriers to the pandemic response. All participants indicated the healthcare system was ill-prepared for the pandemic. Health care workers experienced such severe psychosocial impacts due to the lack of preparedness that they subsequently embarked on strikes in protest. These situations influenced citizens' perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic as a hoax and resulted in a surge in other population health indicators (e.g., increased maternal mortality; decreased vaccination rates for other illnesses such as measles). We recommend authentic partnerships among all stakeholders to develop and implement context-driven sustainable solutions that integrate WASH and emergency preparedness in HCFs and the communities they serve across all spatial scales, from the global to the local.

publication date

  • July 2022