Improving drinking-water quality to prevent waterborne diseases

WHO

A talk session between the radio correspondent from the national radio channel Sadoi Dushanbe and Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative/Head of WHO Country office, Tajikistan

On 5–11 September, the Stockholm International Water Institute conducted World Water Week, bringing together over 2500 global experts, practitioners, decision-makers and business innovators to call for the protection and improvement of water quality worldwide.

The WHO Country Office collaborated with other organizations working on the quality of drinking-water and sanitation in Tajikistan to prepare a country fact sheet for presentation in Stockholm to draw attention to the water supply and sanitation services in the country.

To mark World Water Week, the WHO Country Office organized a series of activities to raise people’s awareness about the quality of drinking-water and sanitation. The aim was to change their personal hygiene behaviour through simple practices and thus combat waterborne and other types of infectious disease.

Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative/Head of WHO Country Office, Tajikistan took part in a radio talk programme on WHO’s role in the health sector, with special emphasis on drinking-water quality and WHO’s collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

An essay-writing competition was organized to draw particular attention to water issues in the country by motivating young people to come forward and express themselves. This particular activity encouraged them to promote the importance of improved drinking-water quality among their families, peers and society at large.

On 15 September, the WHO Country Office took part in a joint press conference organized by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistanand Oxfam to promote their work in improving access to clean drinking-water, sanitation and water supply. The press conference gave the local media information on WHO’s activities in the country, its areas of work and priorities, in particular in the water sector, and provided key messages to raise public awareness of drinking-water, sanitation and the promotion of hygiene.

According to a WHO health assessment of Tajikistan in 2008, out of 107 health facilities assessed (6.3% of all health facilities in the country) only 40 (37%) reported an adequate water supply, while 43% have functioning toilets and sewage systems, including latrines in rural areas. Limited access to a low quality of water supply in such facilities raises the risk of outbreaks of infectious disease and has a negative impact on sanitary and hygiene outreach activities among the population.

Along with the other Member States of the WHO European Region, Tajikistan adopted the Parma Declaration in March 2010 at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, committing itself to regional priority goal 1 of the Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe: ensuring public health by improving access to safe water and sanitation.