New WHO Guidelines on Sanitation and Health

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The World Health Organisation have developed new guidelines on sanitation and health because current sanitation programmes are not achieving anticipated health gains and there is a lack of authoritative health-based guidance on sanitation. The new guidelines summarise the evidence on the effectiveness of a range of sanitation interventions and provide a 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.

Critically, the guidelines articulate the role of the health sector in maximizing the health impact of sanitation interventions. They also identify gaps in the evidence-base to guide future research efforts to improve the effectiveness of sanitation interventions.

The new guidelines set out four principal recommendations:
• Sanitation interventions should ensure entire communities have access to toilets that safely contain excreta.
• The full sanitation system should be undergo local health risk assessments to protect individuals and communities from exposure to excreta – whether this be from unsafe toilets, leaking storage or inadequate treatment.
• Sanitation should be integrated into regular local government-led planning and service provision to avert the higher costs associated with retrofitting sanitation and to ensure sustainability.
• The health sector should invest more and play a coordinating role in sanitation planning to protect public health.

Date: 15 October 2018
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