WHO launches first Global Guidelines on Sanitation and Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched first global guidelines on sanitation and health. These guidelines summarize evidence on effectiveness of range of sanitation interventions. They also articulate role of health sector in maximizing health impact of sanitation interventions.

Key Features of WHO Guidelines

WHO’s Sanitation and Health Guidelines are aimed at securing health and wellbeing for everyone, everywhere by considering sanitation as fundamental foundation of human health and development. These guidelines provide comprehensive framework for health-protecting sanitation, covering policy and governance measures, implementation of sanitation technologies, systems and behavioural interventions, risk-based management, and monitoring approaches. They also identify gaps in evidence-base to guide future research efforts to improve the effectiveness of sanitation interventions. By adopting these new guidelines, countries can significantly reduce diarrhoeal deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. For every US $1 invested in sanitation, it is estimated nearly six-fold return as measured by lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths.

Background

According to WHO, 2.3 billion people worldwide lack basic sanitation and almost half of the world population is forced to defecate in the open. They are among 4.5 billion people without access to safely managed sanitation services i.e. do not have toilet connected to sewer or pit or septic tank that treats human waste. Without proper access to sanitation, millions of people across the world over are deprived of dignity, safety and convenience of decent toilet. Poor sanitation is also major factor responsible for transmission of neglected tropical diseases.

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is  specialized agency of United Nations that acts as coordinating authority on international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is a member of UN Development Group (UNDP). It is headquartered at Geneva. WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.

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