NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
MORE than 3,500 new-born babies in Zambia have died from sepsis and other infections linked to dirty water, according to 2013 statistics, Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi has said.
Ms Kabanshi also said a mother in Zambia, for instance, has a one in 21 chances of losing a new born to the infections during her lifetime.
She said these deaths could be avoided if those caring for the babies would provide an hygienic environment through provision of clean water, basic sanitation and hand washing facilities.
The minister said this in Lusaka on Thursday during the launch of Healthy Start, a four-year global advocacy programme by WaterAid Zambia, focused on improving child health.
Ms Kabanshi said the launch of Healthy Start will help Zambia and the world in controlling under nutrition in children and neonatal deaths through integration of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health policies and practices.
She said a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released this year shows that 38 percent of healthcare facilities in the developing world, including Zambia, lack access to safe water.
â€œIt is in this vein that Healthy Start seeks the global community to commit to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water and sanitation by 2030,â€ she said.
And WaterAid Zambia country representative Fatoumata Haidara said the latest WHO report states that in Zambia, almost one in five hospitals and clinics do not have access to clean water.
Ms Haidara said what is more shocking is that although some hospitals and clinics are defined as having access to clean water, water supply may be up to half a kilometre away from the facility rather than piped into the premises.
â€œAdditionally, there is great doubt as to whether toilets in healthcare facilities are in working order and can be used by both staff and patients,â€ she said.
Ms Haidara recommends that every healthcare facility must have clean water, safe toilets, and functional sinks and soap for all health workers and patients.
NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka