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TitleSafer water, better health : costs, benefits and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsPruss-Ustun, A, Bos, R, Gore, F, Bartram, J
Pagination53 p. : boxes, photogr., tab.
Date Published2008-01-01
PublisherWorld Health Organization (WHO)
Place PublishedGeneva, Switzerland
ISSN Number97892 41596435
Keywordscost benefit analysis, diarrhoeal diseases, disease control, health impact, safe water supply, sanitation, sdihyg, socioeconomic impact, statistics, water distribution, water-related diseases

How much disease could be prevented through increased access to safe water and adequate sanitation, through improved water management and through better hygiene? What do we know about effective interventions, their costs and benefits in specific settings, or about financing policies and mechanisms? This document summarizes the evidence and information related to water and health in a broad sense - encompassing drinking-water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and the development and management of water resources. It presents the ingredients that support policy decisions, namely the disease burden at stake, the effectiveness of interventions, their costs and impacts, and implications for financing. It gives an overview of our current knowledge on the health impacts by country and by disease, of what has worked to reduce that burden, and of the financial requirements.
Almost one tenth of the global disease burden, mainly in the developing countries, could be prevented by water, sanitation and hygiene interventions. Moreover, effective and affordable interventions have been shown to further reduce this burden significantly. The economic return of investing in improved access to safe drinking water is almost 10-fold. Investing in water management will have dual benefits for health and agriculture.
This overview provides arguments for fully integrating water, sanitation and hygiene disease reduction strategies - a prerequisite to achieving the MDGs. It provides the basis for action by the health sector and those sectors managing critical water resources and services. Resulting benefits will include poverty alleviation, improved quality of life and reduction of costs to the health-care system.

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