GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Water is an essential ingredient
for life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the amount of
fresh water on earth is limited, and its quality is under constant pressure.
“Preserving the quality of fresh water is important for the
drinking-water supply, food production and recreational water use. Water
quality can be compromised by the presence of infectious agents, toxic
chemicals, and radiological hazards,” the WHO reports.
The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour
(Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the
ministry, this week’s focus is on water and is part of CPSs public awareness
initiative about relevant health matters.
The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 calls
for water for all by 2030. The UN reports that billions of people are
still living without safe water.
“Safe and readily available water is important for public health,
whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production or recreational
purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water
resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to
“In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognized the human
right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient,
continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for
personal and domestic use.
“Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission
of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and
polio. Absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation
services expose individuals to preventable health risks.
“This is particularly the case in health care facilities where
both patients and staff are placed at additional risk of infection and disease
when water, sanitation, and hygiene services are lacking. Globally, 15% of
patients develop an infection during a hospital stay, with the proportion much
greater in low-income countries.”
WHO reports that diarrhoea is the most widely known disease linked
to contaminated food and water but there are other hazards. Almost 240 million
people are affected by schistosomiasis – an acute and chronic disease caused by
parasitic worms contracted through exposure to infested water.
In many parts of the world, insects that live or breed in water
carry and transmit diseases such as dengue fever. Some of these insects, known as
vectors, breed in clean, rather than dirty water, and household drinking water
containers can serve as breeding grounds.
The simple intervention of covering water storage containers can
reduce vector breeding and may also reduce faecal contamination of water at the
CPS would like to once again remind the community to take measures
around their yard by removing bins, cans, containers and anything that could
hold water which could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.