Wastewater surveillance A Boost in Detecting Emerging Diseases

By Ndatenda Njanike (Press and Communications Officer)

WASTEWATER surveillance is now being used by health authorities to better target interventions and prepare for a variety of future disease outbreaks. 

Wastewater surveillance is not new to the world but however, but the global COVID-19 pandemic which struck the world in 2020 has made scientists monitor possible viruses in wastewater.

In January 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) included improving human wastewater surveillance as one of the recommendations to enhance reporting of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance data to detect, assess, and monitor emerging variants and better understand the burden of COVID-19 in all regions.

“The data gathered by analyzing wastewater is improving health system preparedness and is ultimately used to support public health decision-making, and in doing so is saving lives,” explained Dr. Gloria Rey, a polio expert, and Regional Advisor at PAHO.

“The information held in wastewater is helping health officials understand where there is a disease, identify risk areas, detect outbreaks early, monitor the evolution of a pathogen and act as an early warning system for vulnerable communities,” said Dr. Emilia Cain, a Consultant on Immunizations at PAHO.

Wastewater released by industry has not just affected the health of people alone but the health of the globe.

The wastewater released by large manufacturing companies has polluted clean water for animals and poisoned aquatic life.


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