Global Policy and Coordination

Since the first WASH in health care facilities global report in 2015, a number of global initiatives, policy directives and frameworks have embraced and championed the 2030 target of universal WASH in all health care facilities.

Global Taskforce on WASH in Health Care Facilities

WHO and UNICEF convened a series of stakeholder ‘think-tanks’ coinciding with the launch of the global report on WASH in health care facilities in December 2020, to discuss barriers to progress. A Global Taskforce on WASH in health care facilities, comprising 30 key partners and thought leaders, evolved from these think-tanks to provide input to WHO and UNICEF on global strategic direction, coordination, and to allow for information exchange and dialogue.  

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The purpose of the taskforce is to:

  1. Encourage and hold national governments to account to achieve the objectives established by WHA 72/7 and SDG 3 and SDG 6
  2. Reinforce calls for strong health leadership (e.g. mobilising political leaders at global events including G7, G20, UNGA)
  3. Work at country level to increase demand, financing and integration of WASH in health programming and reporting
  4. Support greater collaboration with other initiatives (e.g. UHC, child/maternal health, AMR, climate smart health systems, Hand Hygiene for All)

Read more: Synthesis of taskforce activities 2022-2023

The United Nations Group of Friends in Support of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Healthcare Facilities

Co-chaired by Hungary and the Philippines, the UN Group of Friends in Support of WASH in Healthcare Facilities was created in response to the high-level commitment of Member States to the UN Secretary General’s Call to Action and the Resolution of the 72nd World Health Assembly, to ensure the widest possible connection of this topic to UN priorities.

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By raising the attention of the agenda to the highest political discourse, the Group aims to inspire maximum commitment and accountability by the Member States. It serves as an informal platform at the UN to exchange information, share best practices, support initiatives and mobilize resources directed at addressing WASH in Healthcare Facilities. The Group invites Member States to address the solvable inadequacies of WASH in hospitals, health clinics, and birthing centers wherever needed.

Notable UN Group of Friends Activities:

December 2021: Launch Event recording & concept note

March 2022: Commission for Population and Development side event “Economic Benefits of WASH in HCF” recording & concept note

March 2022: Statement at the adoption of the Global Health and Foreign Policy resolution

June 2022: Statement at the 2nd High-Level Conference on the International Decade of Water Action

Resolution 72.7

Passed in 2019, Resolution 72.7 on WASH in health care facilities calls on countries to establish baselines and set specific targets, embed WASH in key health programmes and budgets, as well as regularly report on progress.

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The Resolution frames improvement of WASH in health care facilities as a matter of patient safety and an essential prerequisite for infection prevention and for providing equitable and quality health services. Its unanimous endorsement by Member States provided a further mandate to drive national commitments and long-term institutional and systems strengthening.

UN Secretary General’s Call to Action

A global call to action on WASH in health care facilities, issued by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General in 2018, urged all Member States, UN agencies and partners to commit leadership and resources to addressing this fundamental challenge.

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In response, WHO and UNICEF developed a corresponding global workplan with targets and metrics to guide action, published in 2019.

UN SDG 3 and SDG 6

The global targets for WASH in health care facilities are directly linked to and support achievement of SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).

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Access to WASH services in health care facilities is monitored and formally reported under SDG 6, through the efforts of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme.


The number of partners working on WASH in health care facilities continues to grow. These include UN organizations, donors, academic organizations, international, national and local NGOs.

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As of 2020, over 130 partners have committed resources. Of these, 34 made financial commitments in 2019 (totaling US$ 125 million); others allocated human resources, technical and advocacy support.

Key partners include CDC, Eawag, Emory University, Engineers without Borders, Food for the Hungry, Health care without Harm, IAPMO, IRC, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, One Drop Foundation, Oxfam, SNV, Save the Children, Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium, Terre des hommes, United National Development Fund, WaterAid, White Ribbon Alliance, World Vision.

Are you an organization working to support WASH in health care facilities? Get in touch.