Collaboration between WEF and Xylem aims to ensure consistent guidance for water operators.
To ensure protection of the health and safety of wastewater workers during the coronavirus pandemic and into the future, Dr. Andrew Sanderson, MD, MPH of Howard University, has been named Chief Medical Officer for the Water Environment Federation.
As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sanderson will guide and assist WEF in providing reliable medical information to wastewater utility managers and workers, as well as conduct research and serve as a spokesperson on medical issues for the sector. He will be supported by a graduate student from Howard University.
The Chief Medical Officer position was created in a collaboration between the Water Environment Federation and global water technology company Xylem, which has provided foundational funding for the position and a graduate student, to support the safety of water sector workers and their communities.
"Clean water is a critical natural resource and public health issue,” said Dr. Sanderson. "I am excited to partner with the Water Environment Federation to ensure the health and safety of its members and communities around the world."
Dr. Sanderson is a gastroenterologist with Weatherby Healthcare and an Associate Professor at Howard University. His previous positions include serving as a medical officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a fellow at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at Howard University Hospital. Dr. Sanderson received his Master in Public Health from Harvard University, Doctor of Medicine from Howard University, and Bachelor of Science in Biology from Morehouse College.
Dr. Sanderson will work with WEF and other water organizations to provide input to the medical and public health community, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as authorities in other countries, to ensure that guidance is consistent, protective of worker health and safety, and reflects the knowledge of the wastewater sector.
“The top priority of the Water Environment Federation is always to ensure the safety and health of the frontline people in the water workforce, who protect our communities not just during the coronavirus pandemic but every single day,” said WEF President Jackie Jarrell. “WEF is fortunate to have the medical expertise of Dr. Sanderson and is grateful to the collaboration and support from Xylem to make this position and the graduate student assistance possible.”
“The work of water operators keeps essential services running on the frontline of every community’s public health defense network,” said Patrick Decker, Xylem’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “As a technology leader, we want to make sure water operators have access to the best science to help keep themselves and the public safe. We’re proud to partner with the Water Environment Federation, which has long been a leader in supporting professionals across the water sector.”
In his role as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sanderson will coordinate with WEF’s new advisory group and WEF’s technical committees on biological hazards and safety precautions. The group is comprised of a diverse array of leading experts involved in water operations, science, health and safety.
WEF’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic has included providing the latest technical and scientific information to the water community, offering educational opportunities through digital programming, and communicating regularly about resources and assistance available to the sector. WEF maintains comprehensive information and resources related to coronavirus at www.wef.org/coronavirus.