With respect to risk assessment for water-related pathogens, our WHO CC provides technical input to support WHO in developing international standards, guidelines and guidance materials and dissemination thereof, and to support WHO’s activities with capacity building, awareness raising, and technical support.

The WHO CC has expertise in detecting human pathogenic parasites, viruses and bacteria as well as faecal indicators in water. Moreover, vast knowledge of pathogen inactivation is available in different matrices such as meat, faeces, soil, water and air. Expertise includes ample knowledge on quantitative detection and typing methodologies. The WHO CC has experience in Risk Assessment and Risk Management approaches, such as Water Safety Planning and Sanitation Safety Planning. 

Within the designation period 2022-2027, we will conduct the following activities:

  1. Support WHO’s work for the development of guidelines and normative guidance for water-borne disease and water quality surveillance
    The WHO CC contributes to the harmonisation of WHO Guidelines on water quality including drinking water, recreational water, irrigation water and wastewater. It collaborates with other WHO Collaborating Centres on Water Quality in Europe. 

    Our WHO CC actively contributes to the revision of WHO Guidelines, such as the revision of the third addendum to the 4th edition and the 5th edition of the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (GDWQ). The WHO CC assists WHO in developing guidance on developing a national standard for wastewater and sludge treatment and contributes to updates of guidance related to risk-based water quality surveillance, in particular through the contribution of case studies and further expert review inputs and sharing this knowledge. Our WHO CC supports good practices on the integration of wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2, resistant bacteria and poliovirus in wastewater-based epidemiology.
  2. Support microbiological risk assessment and management for water and sanitation
    Our WHO CC contributes to the revision of WHO’s water safety planning guidance for small and urban water supplies. We share experiences and best practices on water safety planning and sanitation safety planning, and also an integrated approach to water and sanitation safety planning. Our WHO CC will build capacity on water and sanitation safety planning in the WHO European region and the African Region. We conduct exposure assessments to e.g. (resistant) bacteria in water based on drinking-water contamination.
  3. Water quality monitoring in limited resource setting
    To ensure the safety of drinking water supply, the WHO recommends the establishment and implementation of a ‘Framework for Safe Drinking Water’, with water quality monitoring as one of its components. Since microbial contamination has been identified as the major threat to the safety of water supplies, testing for microbes is deemed one of the important monitoring components. There are many challenges in monitoring drinking-water quality, especially microbiological testing of water. These challenges may occur particularly in resource-limited settings. Our WHO CC developed a decision tree that supports the process of selection of appropriate microbial parameters and tests for different purposes in different settings. The WHO CC can support countries to use the tool and if needed, the tool can be updated.

    Our WHO CC will build capacity on water quality monitoring, risk-based surveillance in the WHO European region and the African Region.

Leading staff and expertise

Leadings staff Expertise
Harold van den Berg, MSc Water Quality Expert, Water and Sanitation Safety Planning, Water Quality Monitoring
Heike Schmitt, PhD AMR in the Environment 
Jerome Lock-Wah-Hoon, MSc Scientist in infectious diseases and global health
Prof. Ana Maria de Roda Husman Global changes and Environmental Infectious Diseases
Prof. Jack Schijven Microbial Risk Assessor