More than one-third of hospitals in the developing world lack running water, a deficiency that can lead to unsanitary conditions for patients in general and dangerous conditions for those who need surgery, says a study covering 430 hospitals in 19 countries.
“Running water is something we so take for granted and it doesn’t exist in a third of hospitals in these countries,” said one of the lead researchers Adam Kushner, Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, US.
“Instead of water just being there, some hospitals truck in water or collect it in rain barrels, with no guarantee of its cleanliness. Without clean water, there is no way to clean surgeons’ hands or instruments, wash gowns and sheets or clean wounds to prevent or reduce infections,” Kushner said.
For their study, the researchers analysed published research related to surgical capacity in low- and middle-income countries.
They identified 19 surgical capacity studies undertaken between 2009 and 2015 that included information on water availability covering 430 hospitals in 19 nations.
The researchers found that 34 per cent of the hospitals — 147 of the 430 — lacked continuous running water.
These ranged from less than 20 per cent with running water in Liberia to more than 90 per cent in Bangladesh and Ghana.
The findings were published online in the Journal of Surgical Research.
Many people in the world — an estimated 700 million — live without access to water; half of those without water live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Lack of access to water and sanitation has a significant negative impact on health care provision, including surgical care, the researchers noted.