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What are the minimum requirements for water, sanitation and hygiene in Ebola health care settings?

2 Answers

Margaret Montgomery

Existing recommended water, sanitation and hygiene measures in health care settings are important for providing adequate care for patients and protecting patients, staff and carers from infection risks (WHO, 2008). Of particular importance are the following actions:

1) keeping excreta (faeces and urine) separated from drinking-water sources;

2) handwashing with soap; and

3) containment of excreta such that they are effectively separated from human contact.

Other important recommended measures include providing sufficient provision of drinking-water to staff, carers and patients, personal hygiene, laundry and cleaning, adequate and accessible toilets (including separate facilities for confirmed and suspected cases) and the segregation and safe disposal of health-care waste.

For details refer to Essential Environmental Health Standards in HealthCare (WHO, 2008).

Source: WHO & UNICEF (Reviewed by MSF, CDC, and Tufts 2014) Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Key questions and answers concerning water, sanitation and hygiene


Actually, the WHO 2008 reference cited recommends handwashing with "soap or ash" for controlling epidemics (in the section where cholera is used as an example). For even for health centres stolen soap can be a problem as mentioned on some of these pages and clean ash can be an alternative and spare option for cleaning hands and / or disinfection. How hard is on the skin (alkaline) and the germs depends on concentration, time and other factors and how fresh the ash is, and if lotion or oil is provided after hand washing.