Water sanitation hygiene

Water safety plans for buildings, including health-care facilities

Rolling revision of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality


The issue of water quality in buildings was identified as a concern at the FTF meeting for the Third Edition. Although section 6.1 of the GDWQ deals with water management in large buildings, there is a lack of more substantive guidance on WSPs for both large and small buildings, particularly health-care facilities (e.g. dialysis centres, dental chairs, medical devices), for both developed and developing countries.

Uses of water in health-care facilities may lead to increased risk (through proliferation in complex piping and devices), enhanced contact (wound washing, dental drains, catheter cleaning) and increased contact with vulnerable population groups (young, elderly, immunocompromised). Pseudomonas aeruginosa (not just from drinking-water, but from water used for cleaning machines, wound cleaning, etc.) alone has been reported as having a significant impact in hospitals and nursing homes, resulting in longer hospital stays and deaths. Those medical facilities should have sanitation guidelines to protect their patients. Concern extends to patients discharged to home care.

Expected end-product(s)

  • Stand-alone document on WSPs for buildings for publication (late 2008 or 2009)
  • Revised section 6.1, for inclusion in the Fourth Edition

Progress to date

The GDWQ WG meeting (Geneva, 2004) agreed to a plan of work. The GDWQ WG meeting (Geneva, 2005) revised the plan of work, deciding that the substantive document needed to be completed before the GDWQ text could be revised. The GDWQ WG meeting (Geneva, 2006) reiterated that section 6.1 would be revised once the draft document had been finalized, probably in time for the Fourth Edition.

The GDWQ WG meeting (Berlin, 2007) identified an author for the proposed revisions for the Fourth Edition. The GDWQ WG meeting (Singapore, 2008) was updated on the status of the buildings document and agreed that section 6.1 would be revised for the Fourth Edition.