According to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled “Burden of Disease Attributable to Unsafe Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2019 Update,” unsafe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices have led to severe consequences, resulting in a significant loss of lives and widespread disease burden.
What are Unsafe WASH Practices?
- Drinking water from contaminated or untreated sources, such as polluted rivers or stagnant ponds.
- Absence or poor maintenance of toilets, latrines, or sewage systems can result in the improper disposal of human waste.
- Insufficient handwashing with soap, improper food handling practices, and lack of awareness about basic hygiene.
- The practice of defecating in the open, without the use of a toilet or latrine contaminates the environment, water sources, and food.
- Inadequate disposal of solid waste and improper handling of hazardous waste can pollute water sources, contaminate soil, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying vectors.
WASH is an acronym that stands for the interrelated areas of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.
The WHO WASH Strategy has been developed in response to Member State Resolution and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It is a component of WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work 2019–2023 which aims to contribute to the health of three billion through multisectoral actions like better emergency preparedness and response; and one billion with Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Importance of Safe WASH :
Safe WASH facilities contribute to child and maternal health, ensuring safer childbirth practices and preventing child growth and development issues.
Safe WASH is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and creating healthier, more equitable communities.
Principles of the WHO WASH Strategy:-
- Prioritize actions with high public health benefits in WHO-relevant areas.
- Strengthen health sector capacities for safe WASH and outbreak response.
- Promote incremental improvements in national WASH standards and targets.
Engage partners to address health issues in the WASH sector, including healthcare facilities.