Thursday, 27 May 2010

Great progress integrating water and sanitation with health advocacy

Yael Velleman
Researcher - Policy, WaterAid

Yael works for WaterAid, a member of End Water Poverty, and shares here exciting developments from the World Health Assembly for WASH and child health advocates:

Last week I attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the annual meeting in which member countries of the World Health Organisation come together to discuss global health issues. WaterAid was participating as part of the NGO delegation, comprised of World Vision, Save the Children, Oxfam, Action for Global Health and VSO.

There were several highlights from the week, but significantly:

WASH in the resolution on nutrition: The text drafted by WaterAid on the role of access to WASH in preventing child under-nutrition was inserted word-for-word into the WHO resolution on Infant and Young Child Nutrition. Prior to this, neither the resolution nor the WHO Secretariat report which informed it contained any reference to WASH.

WaterAid partner to hosting a successful side event: along with the above NGOs, WaterAid co-hosted a successful side event within the Palais de Nations, addressing equity in access to healthcare services. The event was well-attended and included an informative and engaging discussion. There was real interest in WaterAid's forthcoming report "The sanitation problem: what can and should the health sector do?" and we distributed a flyer available here.

Water and sanitation in next year’s Assembly: it is possible that discussions on sanitation and water will be included, for the first time, on the official agenda of the next World Health Assembly. This signifies a possible wind-change in the attitude of health-sector decision-makers to sanitation and water as key determinants of health.

This experience has shown that the World Health Assembly is a viable and potentially rich advocacy target for our work to engage the health sector.

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