Art of Medicine
Mar 2021

Water Stewardship, Health Stewardship

Tsz Yuen Au and Hiu Ting Law
AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(3):E285-286. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2021.285.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, masking and hand hygiene are key to individual and public health. Yet many people do not have access to clean water. This painting reiterates the importance of water for health and reminds us to be grateful stewards of this precious natural resource.


Figure. Hand Hygiene, by Hiu Ting Law



Acrylic painting.



Wearing masks and keeping our hands clean are key health practices for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, for those of us without access to clean and safe water, protection against SARS-CoV-2 and other contagions is compromised.1,2 In the painting, one pair of hands washes under a stream of water of unknown source from above, visually suggesting the importance of water for washing and drinking and our obligations to be its attentive stewards. We don’t know whose hands these are or where in the world these hands are. They could be ours; they could be yours.


  1. Global WASH fast facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed April 11, 2016. Accessed September 17, 2020.,world's%20population)%201%2C%203

  2. Gwimbi P, George M, Ramphalile M. Bacterial contamination of drinking water sources in rural villages of Mohale Basin, Lesotho: exposures through neighbourhood sanitation and hygiene practices. Environ Health Prev Med. 2019;24(1):33.


AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(3):E285-286.



Conflict of Interest Disclosure

The author(s) had no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.