Access to clean water to fight infectious diseases

Strengthening health systems and combating infections by providing access to clean water in low- and middle-income countries


Globally, at least 2 billion people do not have access to clean and safe water.  This exposes vulnerable populations to a wide range of infections.  Every day, over 700 children aged 5 die from diarrhoea caused by contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene. Healthcare centers are not left out as 1 in every 4 facilities worldwide lack access to basic water services exposing 1.8 billion patients to risk of infection and causing over 1 million deaths each year due to unclean births.

We invest in collaborative initiatives to address this challenge in low- and middle-income countries.  The goal is to provide access to water in healthcare centers and communities in Africa in order to strengthen local health systems and ensure health equity for the benefits of underserved populations.  Access to clean water does not only prevent infections but also boost the service by healthcare workers and support pandemic preparedness.

Jutta Reinhard-Rupp Jutta Reinhard-Rupp

Providing access to clean water to underserved populations represents a holistic approach to prevention of infections, health systems strengthening and economic empowerment. As a company dedicated to human progress, we are committed to partner with experts to address this challenge for and with low- and middle-income countries.

Jutta Reinhard-Rupp

Head of the Global Health Institute, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Our Engagement

United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 seeks to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation for all, focusing on the sustainable management of water resources, wastewater and ecosystems, and acknowledging the importance of an enabling environment.

In line with our Sustainability Strategy, our company is engaged to advance global health by using our scientific and technological innovation to improve health of underserved populations.  To contribute to SDG6, our efforts and investments integrate collaborative initiatives to fulfill the need for access to clean water in resource-limited areas in Africa.

Our activities

We collaborate with World Vision in Ghana as of 2021. The program applies a holistic approach that aims to strengthen healthcare systems, reduce infections including water-borne diseases, such as schistosomiasis.

This initiative embeds three main activities:  

  • Research

    An implementation research study is conducted to assess water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities and to test the quality of water in selected regions in Ghana.
  • Access to Water

    We develop infrastructure to provide safely managed water services to healthcare centers and drinking water to communities in endemic regions in a sustainable manner.
  • Training

    Healthcare workers are trained in Schistosomiasis Case Management and Infection Prevention Control measures for patient safety. Initial trainings are held in endemic regions.

“Clean water for everyone is one of our core missions at World Vision. Bringing life-changing clean water to the forgotten, the marginalized, and the vulnerable has been central to our mission and organizational identity since the start of our WASH programming. This work is more important than ever, since clean water is essential to prevent infections. We appreciate Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s partnership in this area with its initial focus on Ghana.”

Christoph Waffenschmidt, CEO World Vision Germany e.V.

“There is an urgent need to forge strategic partnerships that pursue integrated approaches to leverage on behavior change interventions for Infection Prevention and Control. I am sure that, with concerted efforts like our partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we should be able to successfully rid our communities of preventable diseases such as neglected tropical diseases.”

Dickens Thunde, National Director, World Vision International Ghana