Parties to UNECE Protocol on Water and Health Call for Action on WASH
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe called for action to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools and healthcare facilities in the pan-European region.

The call came as the two organizations convened the Fourth Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP 4) to the Protocol on Water and Health in Geneva, Switzerland.

High-level delegates discussed the role of the Protocol on Water and Health in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

14 November 2016: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe called for action to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools and healthcare facilities in the pan-European region.

The call came as the two organizations convened the Fourth Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP 4) to the Protocol on Water and Health. UNECE and WHO provide secretariat services to the Protocol, which has 26 parties representing around 60% of the population in the region. The pan-European region includes Western, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, as well as Israel.

MOP 4 took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 14-16 November. The meeting adopted a programme of work for 2017-2019, and discussed: target setting, implementation and reporting under the Protocol; prevention and reduction of water-related diseases; small-scale water supplies and sanitation; safe and efficient management of water supply and sanitation systems; equitable access to water and sanitation; compliance procedure; and partnerships. A high-level special session took place on the first day of the meeting, in which delegates discussed the role of the Protocol on Water and Health in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a press release issued before the meeting, the UNECE highlighted that diarrheal diseases cause approximately 14 deaths daily in the pan-European region due to inadequate access to WASH, and called for renewed action on this front.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, emphasized that addressing the unmet need for WASH services in schools will contribute to achieving SDG 3 on good health and well-being and SDG 4 on quality education, in addition to SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation. Actions that improve access to water and health reduce poverty and inequality, and promote sustainability, thus contributing to development beyond the achievement of water-related Goals.

UNECE and WHO Europe launched several publications at MOP 4 that address links between the Protocol and the SDGs, give guidance on developing action plans to ensure equitable access to water and sanitation, and showcase good practices in target setting and reporting. [Meeting Web Page] [UNECE Press Release] [A Healthy Link: The Protocol on Water and Health, and the Sustainable Development Goals (ECE/INF/NONE/2016/16)] [Guidance Note on the Development of Action Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Water and Sanitation] [Collection of Good Practices and Lessons Learned on Target Setting and Reporting under the Protocol on Water and Health]

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