The availability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is a key prerequisite for quality care and infection prevention and control in health care facilities (HCFs). In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance and urgency of enhancing WASH coverage to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and other healthcare-associated infections. As a part of COVID-19 preparedness and response interventions, the Government of Zimbabwe, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and civil society organizations conducted WASH assessments in 50 HCFs designated as COVID-19 isolation facilities. Assessments were based on the Water and Sanitation for Health Facility Improvement Tool (WASH FIT), a multi-step framework to inform the continuous monitoring and improvement of WASH services. The WASH FIT assessments revealed that one in four HCFs did not have adequate services across the domains of water, sanitation, health care waste, hand hygiene, facility environment, cleanliness and disinfection, and management. The sanitation domain had the largest proportion of health care facilities with poor service coverage (42%). Some of the recommendations from this assessment include the provision of sufficient water for all users, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)- and disability-friendly sanitation facilities, handwashing facilities, waste collection services, energy for incineration or waste treatment facilities, cleaning supplies, and financial resources for HCFs. WASH FIT may be a useful tool to inform WASH interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Keywords: WASH; health care facility; health care waste management; hygiene; infection prevention and control; sanitation; water.