Unsafe drinking water affecting public health

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 8:

Experts say that the present outbreak of water-borne diseases is due to contamination in the drinking water being supplied to the general public. “Tests have revealed that 75 per cent of the water distributed in the valley is contaminated and unfit for drinking,” said Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, addressing an interaction programme organised today. The problem of water-borne diseases has affected 4,000 people in 14 districts of the country with 27 reported deaths. The Teku Hospital has received around 2,000 patients, while Kanti Hospital has already treated 400 patients. There were 30 identified cases of cholera in Teku, of whom two were confirmed. While, the hospital has received 19 cases of jaundice. However, officials say no patient has died because of the diseases in the valley. Dr Kokila Shrestha, director of Teku Hospital, warned that the epidemic could escalate as the outbreak was usually reported in the months of June-July in the past years.

“It is imperative to inform that people should drink only properly boiled water and adopt proper hygiene,” said Dr B D Chataut, director general of Department of Health Services. Meanwhile, K N Bhattarai, general manager of Nepal Water Supply Corporation informed that they tested some 50 samples of water collected from random areas every day. “We isolate the areas where we suspect water has been contaminated and provide the drinking water through tankers, while we mend the possible leakage,” said he. He informed that the corporation had already mended possible leakage in the Hyumat, Chikanmugal, Tankeshwor, Nardevi, Thahiti and Kaldhara areas, while repair works were ongoing in Bangemuda. “We would like to assure that 95 per cent of the water being supplied is fully treated and the contamination could be due to external sources,” said he.

Dr Roshan Raj Shrestha, president of Environment and Public Health Organisation (ENPHO) said that the level of chlorination was irregular in the drinking water and had to be regulated. Stating that the major reason for the outbreak of water-borne diseases were due to contamination in the source. Presenting the results of a study conducted on milk supplied by different dairy producers in the valley, Bed Nidhi Dahal, food technologist said that the water and milk both were contaminated with similar kind of microbes. Sandhya Karmacharya from Department of Food Technology and Quality Control informed that of the 173 samples of milk tested this year, 121 contained coliform. “Since the pathogens are killed by heat, it is advised that the consumers boil the milk before drinking, even when it has been labelled as pasteurised.”