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Unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene: a persistent health burden

WHO / Lianne Gutcher
WHO / Lianne Gutcher

An editorial in the September 2023 WHO Bulletin highlights the persistent health risks of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). WHO estimates that up to 1.4 million deaths annually could be averted with better access to these essential services.

Despite important progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which aims for universal access to safely managed water and sanitation by 2030, billions of people still lack safely managed drinking water and sanitation and the means to wash their hands with soap and water at home.

While challenges, including funding gaps and systemic issues in WASH, persist, the editorial underscores the potential for swift progress through targeted investment, enhanced governance, data optimization and adherence to drinking-water and sanitation standards. Such measures fortify health, curb disease transmission and reinforce WASH resilience against climate change and urbanization, among other pressures.


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