Health Mother and Child Health Clean Water global health fund

A health clinic without water

Written by Corey Grant on May 10, 2024 10:42:38 AM

Hospitals and health clinics are usually considered places of safety and healing. But in many of the rural communities where World Vision works, health facilities lack a critical resource for keeping patients — including mothers and their babies — safe: clean water.

Picture a humble clinic nestled amid the arid terrain of Zambia. A mother in labor has traveled on foot to give birth at this facility, with the little heartbeat inside her echoing her hopeful steps. Inside the clinic, she finds caring healthcare professionals, other expectant mothers, and a clean space to deliver her precious child. But what this clinic needs is troubling. Because of limited space, this mother will have no privacy while she labors — she may not even have a bed to herself as she recovers. And the only reason she will have clean water to wash herself and her baby after birth is because she brought it to the clinic herself.

This experience is, sadly, the norm for many expectant mothers in the remote, rural communities where World Vision works. In these places:

  • 50% of health clinics don’t have access to clean water.
  • 5 out of 6 health clinics don’t have basic handwashing facilities.
Woman holding baby

When Olive gave birth to her son, Bernard, at the Ntoma Health Center in Rwanda, she had to share the recovery ward with six other mothers. Because access to water is unreliable during the dry season, the clinic must purchase its water, which keeps them from being able to put money toward expanding the space and making other needed improvements.

The availability of clean water is not just a convenience; it’s critical to life, especially in healthcare contexts where water is necessary to prevent the spread of infection. From delivering healthy babies to administering treatments, every aspect of healthcare is intertwined with the fundamental necessity of clean water.

That’s why, with your help and God’s grace, we are committed to upgrading 3,000 health facilities globally with clean water by 2030, including strengthening the health system in every health facility, everywhere we work in Zambia, Niger, and Rwanda.

A source of life

Claudine Ntamerekezo, midwife at the Ntoma Health Center in Rwanda, delivers a lot of babies. On average, 50–55 births take place at the facility each month. “I love helping mothers to give birth,” she says. But at this health center, delivering babies is much harder than it has to be. “The most challenging part is maintaining hygiene,” says Claudine. “We have to make sure our hands our clean. Without water it makes it very difficult.”

The health center’s staff harvest rainwater when they can, but during the summer, they can go four months without any water at all. And to purchase water costs $245 a week — money that could be saved for other things, such as expanding the maternity ward.

Portrait of Claudine, wearing a lab coat and stethoscope, in a delivery room at the Ntoma Health Center, Rwanda.

“Water is the source of life,” Claudine says. “If we had water, our work would be so much easier.… For the mother that is delivering, it is easier to prevent infections when you have clean water. Having clean water would help the child be protected until they leave the hospital.”

A tale of two deliveries

New mother Violet is all smiles as she holds her son, who clings to her shirt while looking at the camera.

Violet, 24, holds her 11-month-old son, Daliso, who was delivered at Bunda Bunda Health Post — which was equipped with clean water and sanitation facilities through World Vision. His name means “blessing.”

When Violet in Zambia was preparing to give birth to her first child, she had to carry a bucket of water from her home to the nearby health facility, Bunda Bunda Health Post. At the time, the facility had no running water. And space was so scarce that after giving birth, Violet had to surrender her bed to another patient and recover on the floor.

Thanks to the generosity of donor partners like you, things were dramatically different for Violet when she gave birth to her second child in 2022. World Vision had partnered with the clinic to make improvements — including an expanded maternity ward and running water — which meant that this time, Violet had a bed for herself; the maternity ward had indoor water, so she could use the toilet; and she was able to bathe in the inside shower after delivery. I was very happy,” says Violet. “I’m still very happy.”

Today, Violet gathers clean water for her daily needs from the health center’s tap, just a short walk from home. Whereas she once had to walk farther to gather water from a stream where animals drank, she now has clean water for her family and more time for things like growing vegetables and selling them at the local market.

You can make a difference

Together, we can continue to come alongside vulnerable mothers and babies in Jesus’ name and equip them with life-saving resources. World Vision reaches more health centers with clean water, handwashing facilities, infection prevention protocols, and healthcare worker training than any other nongovernmental organization.

$1 becomes $4.50 in impactYour $1 investment — combined with funding from grants, child sponsorship, foundations, and corporations — will have an impact of $4.50.

Join us to equip health clinics with clean water, handwashing stations, toilets, and showers. Your gift to the Global Health Fund also helps provide vital medical equipment and supplies for clinics as well as the training of community health workers, who extend healthcare from local clinics into communities. Please prayerfully consider supporting this life-saving work today.

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