20 November 2020: Global Health Day Radboud University

On Friday, 20 November, a Global Health Day was virtually hosted by Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. This event aimed to showcase international health projects taking place in the Netherlands under the theme of global health and international development. 

Jerome Lock-Wah-Hoon, a scientist in infectious diseases and global health at RIVM, participated as one of the speakers. In a 2 hour workshop with 40 participants, Lock-Wah-Hoon highlighted water and health activities in his department. He focused on the frameworks and mechanisms that enable international health projects to take place, current international work of RIVM, including the provision of expert advice internationally on sewage-based epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, and a number of water and health projects. Lock-Wah-Hoon also shared the relevance and work of the WHO Collaborating Centre and how it contributes to the WHO's capacity building.

26 October 2020: UNC Water and Health Conference

This week the 2020 conference on Water and Health: Science, Policy and Practice takes place virtually and is hosted by the University of North Carolina. The 11th UNC Water and Health Conference aims to interrogate the science to improve global health and achieve universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. It is free of charge and covers a broad range of topics relevant to water and health scientists and policymakers.  


UNC director Aaron Salzberg led the opening session focused on the issue on everyone’s mind – COVID-19. The plenary concentrated on interrogating the science and the scientists who are working at the frontier of what we know about COVID-19 to get to the bottom of what we know and don’t know about the virus and especially how it intersects with WaSH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) issues. The objective of the session was to highlight the latest evidence regarding COVID-19 to inform both policy and practice about WaSH. Prof Ana Maria de Roda Husman, department head at RIVM who leads the Dutch Wastewater Surveillance programme on COVID-19, was one of the six international panellists. The subject of discussion was the origin of SARS-CoV-2, transmission, disease outcomes, persistence in water, and protective measures. 

The conference is held from 26 – 30 October 2020, with over 2,000 registrants from close to 90 countries.

10 June 2020: technical brief on WASH and wastewater management to prevent infections and reduce AMR

A new technical brief released by WHO/FAO/OIE strongly encourages that reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires improvements in water, sanitation, hygiene and wastewater management. This is also needed to prevent infections that would otherwise be treated with antimicrobials. The Global Action Plan to combat AMR calls for action on WASH and wastewater. Yet, at present, they are under-represented in AMR stakeholder platforms and national action plans (NAPs). The technical brief, to which Ana Maria de Roda Husman and Heike Schmitt of RIVM contributed, summarises the evidence and presents WASH and wastewater actions to strengthen AMR NAPs and sector policy. Go to the publication 

24 March 2020: Novel coronavirus found in wastewater

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in wastewater in the Netherlands, according to RIVM research. A small percentage of patients with COVID-19 have the novel coronavirus in their gastrointestinal tract and thus excrete it in their faeces. Read news novel coronavirus found in wastewater

See also this article in the Lancet SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: potential health risk and data source by Willemijn Lodder and Ana Maria de Roda Husman.

For more information read RIVM research on COVID-19 in sewage.

22 March World Water Day 2020: Clean safe water for everyone, even in a changing climate

This year, World Water Day takes place under unprecedented circumstances: the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The UN United Nations  (United Nations  ) calls upon everyone to focus on responsibility, safety and solidarity. Everyone has a role to play. This touches the very essence of the work being done at RIVM by Prof. Ana Maria de Roda Husman, Director of the Collaborating Centre for Risk Assessment of Pathogens in Food and Water. Read more in this interview.

05 March 2020: contribution to WHO brief water and COVID-19

In December 2019, an outbreak of a novel coronavirus also called coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began in the Wuhan region in China. The novel coronavirus has spread globally and has also emerged in the Netherlands. The primary means of transmission is via droplets that are released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It has recently been reported that some patients experience diarrhoea and that the novel coronavirus can be found in faeces of some infected people. Whether the COVID-19 virus is also excreted via urine is still unclear.

That is why RIVM’s Centre for Infectious Disease Control, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Foundation for Applied Water Research (STOWA), has formulated additional advice on working safely with wastewater and surface water (WaSH). With regard to the COVID-19 virus, the advice does not deviate from regular hygiene regulations.

What does RIVM’s WHO collaborating centre for risk assessment of pathogens in food and water do?

As a collaborating centre for the World Health Organization (WHO CC for risk assessment of pathogens in food and water), RIVM has contributed to formulating advice on the COVID-19 virus and safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices, and on Q&A’s for such best practices. Recently it became clear that some patients abroad, mainly in China, experience diarrhoea. The novel coronavirus has been found in the faeces of some patients. This means that the virus could also end up in wastewater.

More information

WHO publication technical brief 'Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19'.  The technical brief is written in particular for water and sanitation practitioners and providers. It is also for health care providers who want to know more about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) risks and practices.

Read more about RIVM research on COVID-19 in sewage

February 2020: Follow-up training on Climate Resilient Water Safety Plan by RIVM for Nakuru County water service providers in Kenya.

From 10-14 February, Fabio Martins Gueth (RIVM) provided a follow-up training on Climate Resilient Water Safety Planning for the water & sanitation service providers of the Nakuru County in Kenya. The training workshop is part of the Nakuru’s WaterWorX Project, led by VEI. After getting acquainted with the water safety plan framework during the first training in October 2019, the participants started gathering the needed information to develop a water safety plan. This training aimed at scrutinizing the gathered information as well as identifying information/knowledge gaps in order to develop a comprehensive water safety plan. In addition, the participants exercised with the risk assessment for the identified risks for the drinking water supply, which highlighted the challenges the urban and rural water service providers face in developing their water safety plan.

January 2020: Workshop drinking water quality from source to tap in Myanmar 

From 13 – 16 January, Ana Maria de Roda Husman and Harold van den Berg provided a training workshop on drinking water quality from source to tap for the water supply of Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC), Myanmar. The training workshop is part of the Mandalay’s WaterWorX Project, led by VEI. The objective was to sensitise personnel from MCDC for possible risks for the drinking water supply from source to tap, such as sanitation, hygiene and climate change. 

During the training, information was given on global changes, such as climate change, which affects drinking water quality. By giving examples of such effects and introducing exercises the participants receive experiences with the need for assessment to identify current and future risks for the drinking water supply. Local hazards and developments such as climate change and infectious diseases in the country and region broadened the scope of the participants. Two booster pumping stations were visited, and possible risks were discussed in exercises during the training workshop.