WASH in schools and health care facilities
Access to water and sanitation facilities beyond the household
Lack of access to adequate water and sanitation facilities in schools can lower children’s educational achievement and reduce attendance rates. In health care centres it is impossible to deliver quality services without reliable access to safe water and sanitation.
Children and their families may avoid going to schools or health facilities completely if these institutions do not have adequate toilets or latrines.
Most school toilet facilities are not child-friendly or suitable for those with disabilities. Girls struggle even more with inadequate facilities. Lack of facilities suitable for girls during their periods, including private space, have been shown to affect attendance and achievement, and may cause some girls to quit their education.
In Myanmar, only 23 per cent of schools meet the international benchmark of 1 toilet per 25 students.
Health facilities are also struggling to provide adequate standards. Hospitals may lack proper access to water for washing and drinking, adequate mosquito control, sufficient cleaning, enough budget and staff training on infection prevention, a study found.
Infections related to poor hygiene in health facilities are a leading cause of disease and mortality of mothers and young children.
Fear of infection at a health facility is likely to contribute to women choosing to give birth at home, where conditions may also be limited, or worse.
UNICEF works to support the Government with technical assistance to develop and implement suitable minimum requirements for WASH facilities in school, including ensuring that designs are appropriate for the needs of children with disabilities and girls.
Targets and plans to significantly scale up the quantity and quality of key facilities are outlined in the National WASH strategy for 2016–2030, developed with the support of UNICEF.
We also support the Government in initiatives to develop the capacity of school management and parent-teacher associations to ensure appropriate facilities, and good hygiene behaviours. This is carried out under the Thant Shin Star (Mr. Clean) approach, an adaptation of UNICEF’s proven global Three Star approach to WASH in schools, which ensures that healthy habits are taught, practiced and integrated into daily school routines.
UNICEF will continue to lead in advocacy for budgets to accelerate the effective planning, development and maintenance of WASH facilities that meet national standards in health centres and schools, and together with partners, support campaigns and initiatives that foster healthy outcomes in key facilities.