Emerging technologies

Health Activities


Safe Drinking Water

Water has been the focus of several major workshops with important national and international repercussions. The first, Biotechnology for Water Use and Conservation , held in Cocoyoc, Mexico, in 1996, demonstrated that biotechnology could make essential contributions to a large variety of water problems.

The second workshop, Molecular Technologies for Safe Drinking Water , held in Interlaken (Switzerland) in 1998, addressed the need for novel methods for measuring and monitoring pathogens. Following this workshop the Swiss and the UK Governments made three proposals for further work:

  • To develop a guidance document on the microbiological testing of drinking water;
  • International co-ordination and promotion of molecular methods in the field of drinking water microbiology; and
  • Co-ordination of efforts in the field of surveillance and outbreak investigations.

WHO and OECD worked together to address the first of these issues. A series of expert meetings were held at OECD and in the UK and Switzerland during 1999-2000. The joint guidance document will be published later this year.

A further workshop, "Approaches for Establishing Links Between Drinking Water and Infectious Disease", was held in Basingstoke (UK) in July 2000. The importance of surveillance and the use of new technologies in molecular epidemiology were recognised. The report of this meeting is available as a free download.