Investing in WASH is an Essential Approach to Preventing Disease, RGHI’s David Wheeler Says in Global Health Matters Podcast

In a new episode of the Global Health Matters podcast, David Wheeler, acting executive director of the Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute (RGHI), presents a strong case for investing in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as an essential approach to preventing disease. Hygiene is “a critical foundation for health. It promotes growth and well-being. It significantly reduces the economic, societal, and personal cost of illness,” Wheeler said in the podcast episode, “Don’t Wash Away Hygiene for Health.”

RGHI is working to advance hygiene practices, develop sanitation solutions, and improve health education, all in pursuit of our mission to enhance overall well-being and reduce disease transmission worldwide.

During the podcast, Wheeler noted that RGHI is investing in enhancing hygiene research opportunities. The path to hygiene “is the path to building better economic investment cases and building better measures of results for the investments in water, sanitation, and the hygiene programs that then deliver on the promise of having access to water and sanitation.”

Wheeler also discussed some RGHI-funded research programs – including projects focusing on the impact of hygiene for women – and he mentioned RGHI’s efforts to build collaborative efforts across the NGO, charitable organization, academic, and other communities to overcome roadblocks to implement programs and achieve better funding levels for WASH-based interventions.

“In building our research program, we’re really looking to help the program practitioners on the ground build bridges between the various constituencies in this space, such that we can create integrated and complete pictures that are really compelling investment cases for more programs on the ground and in countries, helping people achieve better lives through WASH and better health,” he said.

The podcast noted that there are 1.8 billion people globally who do not have running water at home, and that there are 3.4 billion people who do not have access to sanitation. The podcast, hosted by Garry Aslanyan of TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, also featured Annie Msosa, the Advocacy Advisor for WaterAid in Malawi, who discussed a recent cholera outbreak in her country that revealed the dangers of unsafe water in health care facilities.

The podcast aired shortly before the recent Global Hygiene Symposium in Singapore on December 6-8, 2023. The symposium, hosted by RGHI and the Chatham House, was an important effort to drive innovative solutions in global health and expedite progress in hygiene as a pivotal component of overall well-being and global health security. You can watch the podcast here: