Global burden of disease: impacts of poor water, sanitation and hygiene
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.
The UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS 2014), published biannually, presents data from 94 countries and 23 external support agencies. It offers a comprehensive analysis of strengths and challenges in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) within and across countries.
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. In addition, safe handling, treatment and disposal of health-care waste (HCW) are important tasks within the broader activities of stopping the Ebola outbreak. These two question and answer documents summarize recommendations and best practices regarding water, sanitation and hygiene and health care waste to prevent transmission of EVD and many other infectious diseases.
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.
- Ebola virus disease: Key questions and answers concerning water, sanitation and hygiene [pdf 344kb]
- Fact sheet on arsenic in drinking-water
- Fact sheet on dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)
- Fact file on sanitation and health
- Information sheets on water-related diseases
Preventing environmental health related disease in health care and other settings
Ensuring safe drinking-water
Monitoring water and sanitation for evidence-based policy and intervention
Preventing sanitation-related disease
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).
Recent WSH publications
UN-water global analysis and assessment of sanitation and drinking-water (GLAAS) 2014 - report
Water Safety in Distribution Systems
Progress on drinking water and sanitation
Special report for the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA)
Toxic cyanobacteria in water
Management of solid health-care waste at primary health-care centres