WASH, the acronym, stands for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. Though each can be a thematic area in itself; owing to their interdependent nature, they are clubbed together. Since our work on leprosy, tuberculosis (TB), and NTDs hinges on hygiene, WASH is a cross-cutting theme across all these thematic areas. Further, all disaster relief work that is carried out also has WASH as a theme to be worked on. One such case in example is the flood relief work GLRA-India carried out in the state of Assam in 2018.
As the flood water in Assam receded, it left behind debris, contaminated water, choked tube wells and over-flowing toilets. Thus, successful rehabilitation depended on hygiene, water provision, and sanitation facilities. Outbreak of diseases due to lack of these, would pull back any rehabilitation effort. Thus, GLRA-India worked towards securing the basic needs like sanitation facilities on raised ground, provision of mosquito nets, and clean drinking water before setting out on the actual ground work. Though inclusion of WASH in a livelihood project in post-flood relief work called for greater resources and extended timelines, the end results were found to be more robust and in lines with the larger goals of sustainable development.
On similar lines, WASH cuts across all other thematic areas of GLRA-India. Successful prevention of tuberculosis (TB), and leprosy, and management of filariasis hinges strongly on maintenance of personal hygiene. The home based care for patients of filariasis prescribes maintaining personal hygiene, especially of the affected leg. Since the enlarged limb poses a problem to the patient in doing the same, GLRA’s health workers provide care and cleaning of lesions on the affected limb. This prevents frequent filarial attacks that the patients otherwise suffer.
Thus, WASH is not a standalone theme but touches upon every thematic area that we work on. The success of different initiatives and projects of GLRA depends heavily on the implementation of WASH.