Water Sanitation Health

Q&A on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Ebola

Provision of water and sanitation plays an essential role in protecting human health during all disease outbreaks, including the current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. This question and answer summarizes recommendations and best practices regarding water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent human-to-human transmission of EVD and many other infectious diseases.

Water Safety in Distribution Systems

Water quality deterioration in distribution systems, mainly caused by inappropriate planning, design and construction or inadequate operation and maintenance and water quality control, has been linked to a significant proportion of the burden of waterborne and water-related illness.

Progress on drinking water and sanitation

Cover of JMP report 2014

8 May 2014 -- Even though progress towards the MDG target represents important gains in access for billions of people around the world, it has been uneven. Sharp geographic, sociocultural and economic inequalities in access persist and sometimes have increased. A new report "Progress on drinking water and sanitation: update 2014" presents examples of unequal progress among marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Global burden of disease: impacts of poor water, sanitation and hygiene

WHO/Fid Thompson 2012

6 May 2014 – WHO and 14 collaborating research institutions have estimated that 842,000 diarrhoea deaths in low- and middle- income countries can be attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. This amounts to 1.5% of the total disease burden and 58% of diarrhoeal diseases.

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About us

WHO works on aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene where the health burden is high, where interventions could make a major difference and where the present state of knowledge is poor. Our work is divided into six core activities:

  • Drinking-water quality management
  • Water supply and sanitation monitoring
  • Cholera surveillance and prevention
  • Water and sanitation in different settings
  • Water resources management
  • Other activities (including economic aspects, climate change, and the Millenium Development Goals).