COVID19: Nurses fighting coronavirus lack handwashing facilities

One in six healthcare centres round the world lack safe handwashing facilities and nurses, at the battlefront of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, are struggling to scrub even their own hands, a world aid group has warned.

As the world celebrates International Nurses Day on Tuesday, Water Aid said nearly half all healthcare facilities within the poorest countries don't have clean water available. This has resulted in one billion people being forced to hunt care where there's no clean water.

Doctors and nurses are on the battlefront of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed nearly 286,000 people and infected quite four million worldwide. Many healthcare workers have also died after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

To prevent infection, the planet Health Organization (WHO) has recommended basic hygiene like regularly washing hands with soap and water, covering the mouth with an elbow when sneezing or coughing, and physical distancing. 

"Thousands of healthcare workers in developing countries face down this crisis with no clean water or soap to scrub their hands," Tim Wainwright, chief executive of WaterAid, said during a statement.

"The vital role of excellent hygiene in preventing hospitals becoming breeding grounds for disease is being woefully overlooked as a part of the worldwide response to COVID-19. this is often putting the lives of doctors, nurses and patients in danger and can likely extend the duration of the pandemic."

As the pandemic continues to spread, medical workers have documented the uphill battle they face while working long hours under difficult conditions.

Governments have also come under attack for failing to supply sufficient personal protective equipment - face masks, gowns, gloves and goggles - to their medical staff.

For many nurses in developing countries, access to wash water may be a major concern.

"The water problem is basically the most important problem we face because we will not confirm we meet all the hygiene standards. regardless of how determined I or the staff are, without safe water our role is restricted ," Salimata Dagnogo, a 32-year-old nurse in Mali, told WaterAid.

Rhoda Phandama, a nurse and midwife in Nkhotakota, Malawi, said: "We don't have enough soap for the people to scrub their hands thoroughly. we'd like to possess enough supplies in order that we are protected which the clients who come here with issues like injuries and other diseases don't find yourself catching coronavirus."

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRC) and therefore the International Council of Nurses called on governments to plan to ensuring the protection and safety of nurses and other healthcare workers, especially in resource-poor, disaster and conflict settings.

"Nurses are the world's life-savers. they're risking their own health and too often sacrificing time with their family to assist those affected by COVID-19," Robert Mardini, ICRC director-general, said during a joint statement issued by the organisations.

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