Making waves: The benefits and challenges of responsibly implementing wastewater-based surveillance for rural communities.

Making waves: The benefits and challenges of responsibly implementing wastewater-based surveillance for rural communities.

Publication date: Feb 15, 2024

The sampling and analysis of sewage for pathogens and other biomarkers offers a powerful tool for monitoring and understanding community health trends and potentially predicting disease outbreaks. Since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of wastewater-based testing for public health surveillance has increased markedly. However, these efforts have focused on urban and peri-urban areas. In most rural regions of the world, healthcare service access is more limited than in urban areas, and rural public health agencies typically have less disease outcome surveillance data than their urban counterparts. The potential public health benefits of wastewater-based surveillance for rural communities are therefore substantial – though so too are the methodological and ethical challenges. For many rural communities, population dynamics and insufficient, aging, and inadequately maintained wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure present obstacles to the reliable and responsible implementation of wastewater-based surveillance. Practitioner observations and research findings indicate that for many rural systems, typical implementation approaches for wastewater-based surveillance will not yield sufficiently reliable or actionable results. We discuss key challenges and potential strategies to address them. However, to support and expand the implementation of responsible, reliable, and ethical wastewater-based surveillance for rural communities, best practice guidelines and standards are needed.

Concepts Keywords
Biomarkers Environmental health
Months Public Health
Reliable Rural health
Rural Wastewater-based epidemiology
Sewage Wastewater-based surveillance
Wastewater-based testing

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO population

Original Article

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