World Water Day : for better access to water in health care facilities
On the occasion of World Water Day, 22 March 2021, the Dicastery for the Service of Human Development organised a series of online training courses with speakers from religious congregations and various Church structures and international or regional organisations, based among other things on the document “Aqua fons vitae” which it published in 2020.
According to the United Nations, more than 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and 4.2 billion do not have safe sanitation.
The Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development is engaged in Project WASH, a project to improve access to water and hygiene conditions in Catholic health facilities, and in August 2020 urged all bishops to help ensure WASH-compliant conditions “in all health care facilities of the Catholic Church, so as to care for patients safely, to avoid any further spread of Covid-19 or other diseases, and to protect health care professionals and chaplains.
Many bishops’ conferences, dioceses and congregations, including the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, who run 400 health and social centres in 52 countries, have responded positively to this call and have carried out surveys. 150 establishments (small dispensaries, hospitals) are currently carrying out detailed evaluations in 22 countries. These studies will allow the launch of fundraising plans and the improvement of the conditions foreseen by the WASH project.
Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis and a partner in the WASH project, says this will help “prevent the spread of new diseases and ensure decent care for patients in health facilities. Around the world, many local Caritas are running similar programmes ensuring that parishes, communities, health centres and schools have the means to protect the health of the people they serve.
According to Tebaldo Vinciguerra, in charge of environmental issues in the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, “We have a perhaps very pleasant, overly idyllic view of the work done by nuns, missionaries, health centres, Catholic schools in particularly poor and disadvantaged areas. These people do an exceptional job, they should be admired and helped, but let’s not underestimate the fact that, even where the Church is on the front line, there are serious problems related to water, hygiene, services, which nobody talks about. So let’s take advantage of this day to highlight an element that is too ignored, at least by part of humanity, because access to water, this precious common good, should not be taken for granted, it is not systematically guaranteed. ”
During the Angelus on Sunday 21 March, the Holy Father said: “For us believers, ‘sister water’ is not a commodity: it is a universal symbol and a source of life and health. Too many brothers and sisters have access to scarce and perhaps polluted water! It is necessary to guarantee clean water and sanitation for all.
A necessity made even more absolute in times of pandemic.