The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton

Water-Borne Diseases

  • Kinga SzálkaiEmail author
Living reference work entry


In the field of health security, adequate, safe, and accessible water supplies and satisfactory sanitation are of key importance. “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine,” says a Slovakian proverb, and the sentence has a similarly important meaning in its reversed form: contaminated water as the transmitter of water-borne illnesses is one of the leading causes of death globally.

Between 1980 and 2015, the average annual number of deaths due to water unsafe for human health amounted to 780,000 – dwarfing the number of deaths as a consequence of natural disasters (63,000) and in conflicts (75,000) (Ligtvoet et al. 2018, p. 38). According to the estimations of the World Health Organization (WHO, see chapter “World Health Organization (WHO)”), the overall number of people who die in diarrheal diseases per year totals 1.5 million, among whom 502,000 people die of diseases related to contaminated drinking water. Cases related to the lack of sanitation and hand...


Health security Contamination Water-borne Diarrhea Microorganisms Bradley categorization WASH Climate change Inequalities 
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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary