Safe water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively known as WASH) are crucial for human health and well-being. This primer aims to guide health professionals on engaging with WASH-related issues. It gives an overview of WASH interventions and the status of WASH services globally and outlines key linkages with health. It provides examples of key actions that health actors can take to ensure WASH efforts effectively protect public health and highlights World Health Organization (WHO) activities to support those actions.
In 2018, the WASH sector was surprised by three new high-quality studies that showed little or no impact of selected WASH interventions on reducing childhood diarrhoea and stunting. The WHO/UNICEF position paper summarizes the studies, contextualizes the findings within the wider body of evidence and distills the implications for future investments. The paper is accompanied by a recorded interview with the heads of WASH for WHO and UNICEF and the lead author of a consensus statement from leading researchers.
Sanitation workers provide an essential public service that is key to safeguarding human health. Yet, they are often the most marginalised, poor and discriminated against members of society who carry out their jobs with no equipment, protection or legal rights. Many more sanitation workers are needed to meeting SDG6.
The new report and exhibition for World Toilet Day from WHO, ILO, World Bank and WaterAid presents cases on the plight of sanitation workers and ways forward to improve their de-humanising working conditions.
This comprehensive global review highlights the importance of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for human health. Many diseases are caused by pathogens that are ingested with drinking-water, which circulate due to improper treatment and disposal of excreta and which are propagated by inadequate handwashing and lack of hygiene facilities. Diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections are the main diseases that follow these pathways and lack of hygiene facilities. This high disease burden could be largely prevented with existing interventions and prevention strategies, which are described in this report.
In May 2019, a World Health Assembly Resolution on WASH in health care facilities was unanimously passed by all 194 Member States. WHO and UNICEF have produced 3 short videos highlighting the call to action on WASH in health care facilities and calling on Member States and partners to take action and commit to addressing the problem. You are invited to watch and share amongst your networks.
The UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment (GLAAS) 2019 Report features findings from 115 countries and 29 external support agencies on the status of WASH systems. The report covers four key areas of WASH systems (governance, monitoring, human resources and finance) with an emphasis on national WASH policies, plans and targets.
Studies reporting the presence of microplastics in treated tap and bottled water have raised questions and concerns about the impact that microplastics in drinking-water might have on human health. This report critically examines the evidence on the occurrence of microplastics in drinking-water and the potential risks to human health that may be associated with such exposure, with key findings, recommendations and research needs presented. It marks WHO’s first effort to investigate the potential human health risks associated with exposure to microplastics in the environment.
WHO is seeking feedback on a discussion paper on sanitation and climate change. The paper tackles climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation options for sanitation systems at both national and local levels. At local level the paper explores how to incorporate climate risks and related control measures within Sanitation Safety Planning. Send feedback to email@example.com
Since the establishment of the International Scheme to Evaluate Household Water Treatment Technologies (the Scheme) in 2014, WHO has been independently evaluating the performance of household water treatment (HWT) technologies in removing microbial contaminants from drinking-water. The Round II report of the Scheme summarizes the results of comprehensive, health-based performance evaluations of 20 HWT products, including chemical, solar and ultraviolet (UV) disinfectants, and ceramic and membrane filters.
WHO works on aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) where the health burden is high and where evidence-based interventions could make a major difference.
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