Russian Federation holds first International World Water Day Congress

N. Razuvayev

The Russian Federation marked World Water Day on 22 March 2018 by hosting its first International “World Water Day” Congress to highlight the importance of water in public health and trigger global action on critical water-related issues.

Representatives from the 2 chambers of the Russian Federation Parliament, the Federation Council and the State Duma, as well as Ministry of Health officials and delegates from across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) attended the event.

The Russian Federation ranks second in the world for global water resources with the largest reservoir of fresh water, Lake Baikal, accounting for 20% of the world’s fresh water. The country has an immense capacity for high-quality drinking water supply and recreational potential.

Millions in the Region lack access to basic drinking-water services

Whether it is used for drinking, food production, household or recreational purposes, safe and readily available water is crucial for public health. Millions of people in the WHO European Region drink contaminated water and they often do not even know about it.

WHO estimates that in the Region, 57 million people do not have piped water at home, and 21 million people still lack access to basic drinking-water services – with remarkable disparities between rural and urban areas, especially in the Caucasus and central Asia, where less than 40% of rural dwellers use piped water on premises.

Integrated action needed

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one,” said Dr Breda, Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD Office), quoting renowned explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau in his opening speech. Dr Breda further stressed the need to develop integrated actions in environment, nutrition and health to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Water supply systems are under threat posed by climate change, growing water scarcity, demographic fluctuations and urbanization.

By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to poverty reduction.

Further work is needed to fully address persisting gaps in water, sanitation and hygiene in the Region, where water-related disease outbreaks remain a common occurrence.

NCD Office

Established in 2014 with support of the Russian Federation Government, the Moscow-based NCD Office serves as a powerhouse of innovative ideas and solutions for NCD policy, surveillance, prevention and management.