Water Sanitation Health

Guidelines and technical guidance

WSH publications provide authoritative information and guidance on a wide variety of topics that are important for reconstruction initiatives following emergencies. Those specified here include a practical guide to environmental health in emergencies and disasters, WHO's widely-recognized Guidelines on Drinking-Water Quality, guidance on disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals in and after emergencies, and recommendations on ways of treating and storing water safely in the household. The final item in this section is a set of direct links to guidelines on health or environmental topics highly relevant to emergency situations.

The drinking-water response to the Indian Ocean tsunami

As part of WHO's response to the South Asia tsunami, the Organization commissioned a report which investigated the drinking-water response in the aftermath of the disaster, including the role of household-based water treatment and safe storage. This report presents key findings and makes recommendations for the future.


Environmental health in emergencies and disasters: a practical guide

This book (which is available to download in pdf format) deals not only with emergency response, but also with measures designed to reduce the impact of disasters on environmental health infrastructure, such as water supply and sanitation facilities. It also aims to strengthen the ability of people to withstand the disruption of their accustomed infrastructure and systems for environmental health (e.g. shelter, water supply, sanitation, vector control etc.) and to recover rapidly.


WHO guidelines for drinking-water quality

This edition of the Guidelines has been comprehensively updated to take account of developments in risk assessment and risk management since the second edition. Developments in this edition include significantly expanded guidance on ensuring the microbial safety of drinking-water — in particular through comprehensive system-specific “water safety plans”.

Application of the guidelines in specific circumstances including disasters

These Guidelines provide a generally applicable approach to drinking-water safety. In applying the Guidelines in specific circumstances, additional factors may be important. This chapter describes the application of the Guidelines in some commonly encountered specific circumstances and issues that should be taken into account in each. See particularly section 6.2 on emergencies and disasters, page 104.


Safe disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals in and after emergencies

During conflicts and natural disasters large quantities of pharmaceuticals are often donated as part of humanitarian assistance. Undoubtedly many of the pharmaceuticals save lives and alleviate suffering, but some donations given by well-meaning but uninformed people may cause problems.


Household water treatment and safe storage

Household water treatment is effective, simple, and inexpensive. It is especially applicable to populations recovering from a disaster situation who often lack facilities and resources. This document reviews the available technologies.


Practical guidelines for infection control in health care facilities

These guidelines should help countries to strengthen their infection control practices in health care facilities. This should help to prevent further spread of infection and to deal effectively with new infectious diseases like SARS as well as other hospital-associated infections.

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