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500,000 die from polluted water yearly - WHO

April 20, 2017, 10:56 a.m.

WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) has hinted that contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrhea deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma.

According to WHO, almost two billion people use a source of drinking-water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

To end this, Ghana has adopted the Risk Based Approach (RBA) to ensure Drinking Water Quality (DWQ) across the country.

This was announced by a senior lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University and Science and Technology (KUNST) and a consultant, Dr. Kwabena B. Nyarko at a day’s workshop for the Ghana Water and Sanitation (WatSan) Journalists Network (GWJN) in Accra.

According to Dr. Nyarko, the new framework will provide stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector with clear direction for drinking water quality and protection of public health.

He said data available show that bacteriological contamination risks increased from about 43.5% to 62.1% at the point of use.

He explained that the new approach promotes an understanding of the entire water supply system, the events that can compromise drinking water quality and the operational control necessary for optimising drinking water quality and protecting public health.

Dr. Nyarko further emphasised that the RBA considers all the barriers to prevent contaminants reaching the public from the catchment to the users.

“The barriers are needed to prevent contaminants from entering the raw water, remove contaminants from the water, maintain the quality of the water during distribution and prevent contamination when handling water,” he added.

He pointed out that the steps are to identify events that may introduce hazards, possible causes of each event, estimate the level of risk associated with each particular event, institute preventive measures to avoid events and corrective actions when preventive measures fail.

The senior lecturer also revealed that the approach the national drinking-water quality management was using previously was not based on a risk-based approach but on the traditional compliance monitoring approach, which had limitations such as water quality.