How Swachh Bharat transformed the way public hospitals function
The government’s Swachhta Abhiyaan is bearing fruit across sectors and the impact is visible even in the healthcare sector. Central government-run hospitals of today are much cleaner, strictly following standard hygiene practices as well as waste management and infection control guidelines.
All thanks to the Union health ministry’s ‘Kayakalp’ initiative under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan that was launched three years ago, and has transformed the way public hospitals function in the country.
“To implement the vision and philosophy behind the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan launched by the Prime Minister, the health ministry launched the Kayakalp initiative to set protocols for hygiene and sanitation at government health facilities. The initiative towards total “swachhta” in public health facilities is aimed towards building confidence of the users in public health facilities, provide quality service and encourage team work,” says JP Nadda, Union health minister. “The initiative will encourage every public health facility in the country to work towards standards of excellence to help the facilities stay clean and hygienic.” As part of the initiative, senior ministry officials regularly inspect central hospitals in the country, to take stock of the existing status and to intensify the Swachhta drive. States have also been requested to take up similar campaigns. The health minister himself reviews the practices followed for maintaining cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene within and outside the premises of hospitals such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and visits wards, including emergency and private, operation theatres and intensive care units.
As part of the initiative, standards and protocols have been put in place for the upkeep of services within and outside the buildings; support services such as laundry and food are provided at various locations; waste management as per standards is undertaken; and infection control measures are carried out.
Committees and sub-committees are formed to periodically review and monitor the progress made in these areas.
“Swachh Bharat Mission has definitely made an impact in motivating people towards sanitation and housekeeping. It has fuelled energy in this very important initiative. AIIMS New Delhi has taken a lot of innovative measures towards further improving sanitation and housekeeping. As a result of which AIIMS has continuously winning 1st prize during the kaya kalp competition organised by health ministry,” said Dr Arti Vij, spokesperson, Aiims Delhi.
The ministry has also started the Kayakalp awards for central government hospitals that maintain the best standards of sanitation and hygiene. The first prize under the category is of Rs 5 crore, the second of Rs 3 crore and third Rs 1 crore. Prestigious institutes such as AIIMS, Delhi and Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh have been competing for the first position.
“Now, there is competition among various categories of the awards, leading to a change in habits and mindsets at every level,” says the health minister. To complement and leverage the efforts and achievements made so far, the ministry of drinking water and sanitation (MDWS) and the health ministry jointly launched Swachh Swasth Sarvatra initiative in December last year.
The three key components of the programme are to support community health centres (CHCs) in open defecation free (ODF) blocks to achieve Kayakalp certification; to prioritise gram panchayat of Kayakalp primary health centres (PHCs) to become ODF; and training in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) of CHC/PHC nominees In blocks where open defecation has been eliminated through the efforts of the MDWS and the local community.
Improved sanitation, reduced disease burden
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has lauded India’s commitment to accelerated coverage of safe sanitation services. In its recent report, WHO revealed that at least 180,000 diarrhoeal deaths were averted in rural areas since the launch of the Swachhta Bharat Mission.
“…assuming 100% coverage is achieved by October 2019, could avert up to 300,000 deaths due to diarrhoeal disease and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) since the country launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014,” the report said. The report also revealed that if all sanitation services were used, the initiative could result in over 14 million more years of healthy life in the period measured, with the benefits accruing yearly thereafter.
“That is especially remarkable given that before 2014, unsafe sanitation caused an estimated 199 million cases of diarrhoea annually.” Dr Vinod Paul, member, Niti Aayog, says, “It’s the best possible estimate that we have currently. Deaths are largely averted through reduction of diarrhoea, in which imporved hygiene and sanitation has a huge role to play. Optimum WASH conditions reduce diarrhoea by 50%. We can’t achieve what developed countries have achieved unless we are clean.”