Supporting health workers on the frontline of Covid-19

As health workers struggle to access PPE in the UK, the needs in healthcare centres facing the threat of Covid-19 in developing countries are even more stark: many don’t even have enough water.

As the world marks World Hand Hygiene Day on Tuesday 5 May, focusing this year on nurses and midwives, one in four health care facilities around the world lacks basic water services, according to WHO and UNICEF.

Stefano Katsuvo, 58, (pictured below) is a senior hygienist at Kiwanja Health Centre in Rutshuru, North Kivu, Democratic Republic Congo (DRC). Toilet Twinning funds recently helped to provide a shower, toilet and 3,000-litre water tank at his centre.

‘These facilities, and the water tank especially, brought a huge sense of relief to doctors, nurses, our patients, staff and visitors, and gave us confidence to be able to manage the prevention and control of infections in our centre,’ says Stefano.

Now, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, our response is adding a further 250 handwashing stations and 55 rainwater harvesting and storage tanks to healthcare centres across the DRC. We’re also broadcasting public health information via local radio adverts.

Hebdavi Muhindo, Country Director in the DRC, says: ‘Preventing a large-scale outbreak of the virus is the only way to avoid a catastrophe. Handwashing with soap is one of the best defences we have against coronavirus. Making sure healthcare centres have the water and soap they need is at the top of our to-do list.

‘It sounds simple, but most people did not have enough water for their everyday needs even before they’d heard of coronavirus. Water is a precious resource. At a household level, we’re advising people to install “tippy taps” which minimise the quantities of water you need to wash your hands properly and encouraging people to make use of second-hand water whenever possible.’

On March 20, Toilet Twinning launched its Tap Twinning appeal to invite people to twin their tap at home with a ‘tippy tap’ overseas, to help fund a global Covid-19 response across more than 50 countries. So far, our global partners have distributed 66,000 personal hygiene messages, given out 17,560 hygiene and sanitation products and installed 220 water stations.