With real-time data on hygiene in labour rooms, mothers’ lives can be saved.
For the vulnerable, there is a darker side to a visit to the hospital – Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) and patients with weak immune systems are the most susceptible. Inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) account for about 10 per-cent of all infections.
Good WaSH infrastructure and hygiene practices, especially hand washing, are critical in health centres.
The most common HAIs are infections of the urinary tract, bloodstream, surgical site and pneumonia, all of which have strong links to WaSH, especially hand hygiene. Poor WaSH is linked to maternal mortality and morbidity, especially sepsis. A review in 2011 of HAIs showed that in some developing countries, up to one in every two patients (45.6 per-cent) left the hospital with an infection they did not have on arrival.
Swasti undertook a study on the status of WaSH in health care facilities in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. The study found that staff in these centres were indifferent to taking basic hygiene and sanitation related precautions to prevent infections. While nearly all facilities had toilets, 40 per-cent were dysfunctional or unusable.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India, issued Kayakalp – Swachhta Guidelines for Public Health Facilities to improve the hygiene and cleanliness of health facilities and reduce hospital acquired infections. Incredibly, the study showed that these guidelines have not had much impact because the monitoring tool was paper-based.
The need of the hour was recognised to be a fast, low-cost and reliable way to report, assess and act – ideally a mobile app that provided real-time information not only to the administration of the hospital but to the higher-ups, to call for help, high- light challenges and ensure accountability.
In response, Swasti Health Catalyst, supported by its sister organisations in the Catalyst Group, created the WaSH app. The solution consists of an android app and web platform to help hospitals monitor and execute healthy WaSH practices.
The app is aimed towards providing healthcare facilities and real-time access to WaSH information. With regular real-time monitoring resulting in enhanced WaSH standards maintained in healthcare facilities, the quality of health services will eventually improve. This would prevent infection and there- by reduce preventable deaths among mothers and newborns.