This week is the World Water Week (WWW) Forum 2018 and this year’s focus is on ‘Water, ecosystems and human development’. Every year, WWW provides a platform for over 300 organisations to consider the latest research and encourage new thinking and positive action towards water-related issues worldwide. 

Around 1.1 billion people around the world do not have access to improved water sources and 2.4 billion do not have access to basic sanitation. Improving the availability of clean water helps to fight water-borne diseases such as cholera, rotavirus, and typhoid.

These diseases can be spread through infected water or food and can cause severe, and sometimes fatal diarrhoea. Though treatable and preventable, there is estimated to be between 1.3 million – 4 million cases of Cholera each year. Rotavirus, which is also vaccine-preventable, is the most common cause of infant diarrhoea worldwide and results in over 2 million children being hospitalised each year. It is highly infectious and children in developing countries often experience their first episode of rotavirus diarrhoea before the age of 12 months, while children in developed countries tend to have their first episode between 6-24 months.

Symptoms of these diseases can include fever, vomiting, severe diarrhoea and dehydration, and can be fatal if left untreated. 

Key interventions to reduce the prevalence of such diseases include:

  • Improved access to safe drinking water
  • Improved sanitation
  • Increased vaccination coverage, and wider availability of treatments, particularly in developing countries
  • Education on good personal/food hygiene and how infection spreads 

For more information on the 2018 World Water Week forum and the latest action plans to improve water-related issues, visit the WWW website.