The Post

Risk of diseases


ACCESS to safe drinking water is critical to public health, says Dr Avashri Harrichandparsad, a consultant on public health medicine at the University of KZN.

“Clean water is essential for hydration, domestic use, safe food preparation and recreation. For those with chronic and acute illnesses, it can affect their ability to adhere to treatment. When this is compromised, the key immediate health hazards are those related to not being able to wash hands and not having access to a functional toilet.

“With prolonged lack of access to clean water, there is an increased risk of the spread of infectious diseases such as influenza, from not being able to wash hands, and water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and bilharzia (in endemic areas), in communities having to resort to unsafe water supplies.”

Harrichandparsad said apart from the immediate health risks, the knock-on effect was a potential negative impact on household income through lost productivity as a result of illness, which served to perpetuate the poor economic circumstances of the communities affected.

Longer-term social consequences also included lost days at school, which could negatively impact children’s education, she said.

“Prolonged water shortages can also lead to storage of water in households which, if left uncovered, can either become contaminated with faecal material or can serve as breeding sites for insects that can carry a variety of diseases,” she said.





African News Agency