September 7, 2017
The Water Institute at UNC, based in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been designated as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Collaborating Center for Water and Sanitation.
Since its inception in 2010, the Institute has collaborated with WHO and PAHO on a number of international activities, including with WHO on the development of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for water and sanitation, establishing formal international standards, notably for drinking-water safety, and supporting monitoring of drinking water and sanitation worldwide.
Institute leaders also have worked with PAHO/WHO on the health consequences of, and ways to adapt to, climate change, and have established evidence to advocate for safe conditions in health-care settings.
“This formal designation will place our current cooperative relationship at a more formal level,” said Jamie Bartram, PhD, Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering and director of The Water Institute at UNC. “It provides us with the opportunity to continue to influence important international developments related to environment and health, to have greater engagement in the Americas region, and to fast-track our most important research into the key agencies of the international development system for health.”
Bartram said the designation reflects an external validation, “complementing the success story told in our recently-completed six-year review,” that the Institute is engaged in significant and cutting-edge research and practice in environment and health.
“Looking forward to The Water Institute’s next six years, we will expand upon and extend beyond what we know we can do well,” Bartram said. “That includes working with implementers at scale to increase their efficiency and impact on the ground, bringing evidence to bear to improve international, state and local policies, challenging accepted truths when they impede health and development, and bringing people together to bridge divides and advance development worldwide.”
Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School, said Bartram had made The Water Institute a “force multiplier” in the years since he joined the Gillings School.
“The PAHO/WHO designation joins three of the world’s most effective organizations in partnership to accelerate gains in water and sanitation,” Rimer said. “We are honored and committed to the goals of implementation.”
The Water Institute is the second Gillings School entity to have been recognized in this way. In 2008, the WHO Collaborating Center for Research Evidence for Sexual and Reproductive Health was established in the School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health. That center, directed by Herbert Peterson, MD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of maternal and child health, and of obstetrics and gynecology in the UNC School of Medicine, received redesignation in 2012 and 2016.