June 30, 2015
Convened by the World Health Organization
This webinar provided an overview of Round I and procedures for Round II of the World Health Organization’s International Scheme to Evaluate Household Water Treatment Technologies (“the Scheme”). The Scheme is a fee-based mechanism to promote and coordinate independent testing and evaluation of household water treatment (HWT) technologies that are appropriate for use in developing countries.
During the webinar, the Scheme Secretariat at WHO presented an overview of results from Round I of the Scheme and the lessons learned. The main findings were:
- 5 out of 10 products met reduction requirements for at least the bottom tier
- 4 out of 10 products are currently being re-evaluated
- Existing HWT performance evaluations lack rigor; e.g., testing is conducted under ‘ideal’ conditions that are not representative of actual use
- Some products came with unclear use instructions that may be confusing for users
The webinar also included highlights from Ethiopia and Ghana, where WHO is working to strengthen regulation and testing of local products. More detailed results from the performance evaluation and these capacity building activities will be shared in a forthcoming Round I summary report.
Among the challenges encountered in Round I were the perceived high cost of testing under the Scheme, and the sense that the performance classification of Highly Protective, Protective and Limited Protection was subjective. In addressing these challenges, the performance classification has been revised to Tier 1 (formerly Highly Protective); Tier 2 (formerly Protective) and Tier 3 (formerly Limited Protection). The goal for Round II is to focus on increasing efficiency while reducing cost and complexity. This will be achieved through a revised harmonized protocol which calls for fewer sample points across products and fewer microbial groups (in certain situations), while also maintaining a high level of scientific rigor.
The Q&A session following the webinar was largely focused on eligibility and procedures for submitting HWT products for review under the Scheme. Expressions of Interest (EOI) are currently being sought from manufacturers who wish to have their HWT products evaluated under the Scheme. An “Early Bird” special will be given to those who submit by 12th of July and the final deadline has been extended to the 15th of August, 2015. The EOI form, which must be filled out in its entirety and emailed to WHO can be found here: http://www.who.int/household_water/scheme/applicant/en/.