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WATER AND HEALTH CAPT John Walmsley, REHS US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

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Presentation on theme: "WATER AND HEALTH CAPT John Walmsley, REHS US Dept. of Health and Human Services."— Presentation transcript:

1 WATER AND HEALTH CAPT John Walmsley, REHS US Dept. of Health and Human Services

2 Water and Health Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental need and human right Safe water is critical for: Drinking/hydration Food preparation and clean up Personal hygiene Medical care (hospitals) Safe water also impacts: Development of industry Other economic development (tourism)

3 Water and Health SAFE WATER Enormous health and economic benefits to communities Facilitates the achievement of all eight MDGs Lack contributes to illness and death, esp. children Diarrhea is 2 nd leading cause of death in the under 5s Children under 5 represent 90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases – nearly 1 in 5 deaths

4 Water and Health DISEASES TRANSMITTED THRU WATER Diarrheal diseases including intestinal parasites and worms Bacterial/viral infections including E.coli, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and dysentery Wash water can also transmit diseases of skin & eyes Surveillance and reporting systems dont capture well Challenging to document scope of problem Baseline surveillance data is lacking

5 Water and Health SURVEILLANCE & REPORTING Extent of waterborne illness not always obvious when communities have been impacted for a long time Enhanced surveillance systems needed to develop accurate statistics and allocate program resources Improved surveillance systems positively impact public health across the board – not just for waterborne illness

6 Water and Health WATER SOURCES Large scale catchment systems (airport runways) Residential rooftop catchment systems Freshwater lenses and wells Seawater run thru reverse osmosis systems Streams and springs (Japanese spring containment) Coconuts! Imported/bottled water (Kwajelein Army Base) Most PICTs have a need to develop and implement water source protection measures to prevent contamination

7 Water and Health DISTRIBUTION / REGULATION Public water systems in more urbanized areas Regulated by local EPAs or WAs Smaller, village based water systems May or may not be regulated Individual water supplies: catchment, wells, streams Usually not regulated Bottled water companies in larger population centers Regulation highly variable IMPORTANT ROLE IN EMERGENCY RESPONSE

8 Water and Health WATER RESOURCE VULNERABILITIES Drought and heat waves Tidal surge Tsunami Severe storms / extreme weather events Climate change: rise in sea level will result in saltwater intrusion into freshwater supplies CRITICAL: Any disaster can impact water resources – emergency preparedness & water safety plans should address risks posed by potential emergencies

9 Water and Health TREATMENT ISSUES Chlorination in municipal water systems – but can be compromised due to loss of system pressure First Flush mechanisms divert initial rainfall from carrying rooftop contamination into cisterns + screens Chlorination plus periodic cleaning and sanitizing of cisterns and catchment tanks Solar pasteurization UV light disinfection Boiling (often impractical) No treatment in many island settings

10 Water and Health LOCAL EPAS/WA & HEALTH DEPARTMENTS Health issues related to unsafe water dealt with by health departments BUT – water systems overseen by EPAs and Water Authorities Critical that local HDs and EPAs work together to improve on the availability of safe water Much potential for enhanced coordination and collaboration


12 Water and Health WHOS WORKING ON WATER ISSUES IN THE PACIFIC? UNICEF UN-HABITAT UoH College of Tropical Ag. and HR UoH Sea Grant UoG Water and Env. Research Institute Framework for the Pacific WASH Coalition Pacific Framework for Action on Drinking Water Quality and Health Global WASH Cluster

13 Water and Health CURRENTLY HHS working within the Department to synergize efforts related to EH, including water (CDC, FDA) Enhancing relationships with DOI, US EPA and other Federal agencies active in EH and water issues Seeking to work with regional programs to promote EH programs and issues (NPEHA)

14 Water and Health MDG 7 – Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people w/o sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation Water and sanitation interventions are cost effective across all world regions Economic benefits range from US$5 to US$46 per US$1 spent (Journal of Water and Health, 2007) Investment in water services, hygiene promotion and sanitation is among the most cost-effective ways of reducing child mortality (World Bank)

15 CAPT John Walmsley, REHS Office of Pacific Health HHS Region IX San Francisco, CA

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