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HIV/AIDS: Organisation says integration of water, sanitation, hygiene services, crucial to fight against infection

HIV self tests are displayed in a pharmacy in Bordeaux, France, September 15, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Files

Safe and adequate water and sanitation provision increased the dignity of both patients and caregivers.

WaterAid, an international organisation on Thursday, called for the integration of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in the crucial fight against HIV/AIDS.

The organisation’s Communication Officer, Mrs Oluseyi Abdulmalik, made the call in a statement on Thursday in Abuja on the occasion of the World AIDS Day.

“Today being Dec. 1, 2016 is marked World AIDS Day, and at WaterAid, we believe that WASH services are critical to both disease prevention and care.

“While our focus as an organisation is on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 and on everyone, everywhere having access to safe water and sanitation.

“On this World AIDS Day, we are also reflecting on Goal 3 (health and wellbeing) and in particular on the target of ending the global AIDS epidemic by 2030.

 “This means full access to health services for all, delivered with dignity and respect, it also means adolescent girls, women, boys and men having access to appropriate HIV and sexual and reproductive health information and services," Abdulmalik explained.

According to her, the day reminds the organisation that the SDGs are interconnected and that the eradication of extreme poverty depends on all the 17 global goals.

The official stated that one of the strategic aims of WaterAid focuses on integration, working together across sectors and across all the goals.

Abdulmalik said clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene practice were crucial in helping all citizens to stay healthy, minimising the risk of infection and for the taking of retroviral drugs.

“Nigeria carries the second heaviest burden of HIV in Africa and the highest in West Africa. Safe water, improved sanitation and good hygiene are essential for ensuring that PLHIV live healthy and productive lives.

“Easy access to safe and sufficient water and sanitation is indispensable for people living with HIV and AIDS and for the provision of home-based care to AIDS patients," she added.

According to her, safe drinking water is necessary for taking medicines, while nearby latrines make life more tolerable for vulnerable patients.

She added that water is needed to bathe patients, wash dirty clothes and linen, keep the house environment and latrine clean in order to reduce the risk of opportunistic infections.

The official said safe and adequate water and sanitation provision increased the dignity of both patients and caregivers.

Abdulmalik noted that people living with HIV are more susceptible to WASH related illnesses such as typhoid and skin diseases.

“People living with HIV are also six times more likely to acquire a diarrhoea disease with 90 per cent of people living with HIV experiencing diarrhoea at least once," she said.

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