Other Public Health Issues

If WASH staff identify a need or opportunity, or are requested to intervene in other public health areas, Programme Management and preferably Regional or HQ-based Public Health Advisors should be consulted to determine Oxfam’s capacity to intervene, what added-value Oxfam would bring, and budgetary and timing issues.


Oxfam's Policy Paper on Psychosocial Assistance

Technical Brief: Hepatitis E Outbreak Response

Guide to Community Engagement in WASH: A practitioner’s guide, based on lessons from Ebola

Minimum Requirements

Oxfam’s core public health expertise in emergencies lies in the prevention of acute WASH related illness. . However there will be occasions when a need or opportunity arises for involvement in other public health programming. This might be:

  • To support the activities of another NGO or the Ministry of Health during an emergency response (for example a mass vaccination campaign);
  • To respond to other WASH-related health threats (for example bilharzia, skin and eye infections) or other health issues amongst the affected community that would have an impact on public health or safety (e.g. fire safety).
  • To maintain momentum and interest levels in existing community WASH activities during chronic emergencies.

Factors to consider in deciding whether to engage with other public health activities include:

  • Does Oxfam have the capacity and experience to intervene? Do other NGOs have more established expertise? Would Oxfam’s involvement be better focussed on advocacy within WASH and Health Clusters for scale-up by other agencies?
  • How does Oxfam add value to the activity?
  • Can the cost of the activity be covered in the existing budget? If not, what alternative sources of funding are available (e.g. in-kind support from another NGO or UN)?
  • Does the timing of the activity coincide with Oxfam’s core WASH or malaria activities around the rainy season? If so it is likely to detract from our core messages and will need strong justification.

What We Don't Do

WASH teams and management should knowthe limit of Oxfam WASH activities, and know how to deal with requests for humanitarian support in activities that we do not undertake.

Oxfam does not carry out medical interventions, though we may advocate for others to provide clinical services if there is a significant gap in provision.

  • Oxfam does not provide community-based post-traumatic stress counselling but staff may need support in working with severely traumatised communities (see policy paper on psychosocial support).
  • Oxfam should not advocate for, or implement, chemical fly control such as spraying, outdoor fogging or dusting for the sole purpose of eradicating or controlling flies.
  • Oxfam does not promote or use insecticide-treated plastic sheeting in latrine or shelter construction, nor distribute ITPS as an NFI. The effectiveness of Insecticide-Treated Plastic Sheeting (ITPS) as a vector control method is still under debate.
  • Oxfam does not provide ‘child friendly spaces’ although we may provide WASH facilities for such spaces supervised by other agencies that are experienced in working with children (such as Unicef and Save the Children).