Water for healthcare is for more than drinking – Rethinking the water service indicators for healthcare facilities

Authors: Li Ann Ong, Zahid Hayat Mahmud, Md. Sakib Hossain, Mohammed Monirul Alam, Jiwon Park, Maya Vandenent & Katrina Charles

Poor healthcare water exposes patients to risks of healthcare-associated infections. The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for healthcare water services prioritises on-premises access from improved source and drinking water monitoring only.

Objectives: 1) Examine the quality of water services for healthcare use in low-resource settings by JMP indicators; 2) examine the utility of E. coli as a water safety indicator for healthcare use.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of 21 hospitals across Bangladesh, with improved water services. Mixed-method sampling: 1) systematic sampling of the hospital water system (source to tap) and drinking water points; analysed for E. coli and opportunistic pathogens; 2) sanitary inspection for infrastructural and environmental hazards; 3) water system operation and maintenance survey.

Findings: 1) Targeted drinking water monitoring with E. coli overlooks the health risks from other opportunistic pathogens in hospital water system; 2) Access to improved infrastructure is an inadequate indicator of water safety in complex piped system.

A poster presented at Singapore International World Water Week June 2024

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