Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are critical to providing quality maternal and neonatal care in health facilities. This study aimed to investigate availability of WASH policies, standards, and services for childbirth and newborn care in hospitals in East Asia and the Pacific.
Descriptive analysis of survey data and observations of water, sanitation and hygiene services in maternity and neonatal care rooms and of deliveries in 147 hospitals in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Viet Nam. The main outcome measures were availability of national policies and standards; availability of water, sanitation, and hygiene services in maternity rooms and neonatal care units; and practice of hygiene at childbirth.
Three of seven countries had national WASH policies and three had standards for health facilities. Seventy-seven percent of hospitals had a sink with water and soap or alcohol hand rub in delivery rooms, 78% in neonatal care rooms and 42% in postnatal care rooms. Only 44% of hospitals had clean sinks with water, soap and hand drying methods in the delivery room, 40% in neonatal care units and 10% in postnatal care rooms. Flush toilets were available in or next to delivery rooms in 60% and neonatal care units in 50% of 10 hospitals with data. Countries with WASH standards had a higher proportion of hospitals with water and hand hygiene services. Appropriate hygiene was practiced by health workers in 65% of 371 deliveries observed, and more likely in delivery rooms with a sink, water and soap.
Coverage of WASH services for maternal and newborn care must be improved to reduce risks of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality.