By : ML. Mazaba Zambia National Public Health Institute

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Citation Style For This Article: Mazaba ML. Water Contamination – A Public Health Concern. Health Press Zambia Bull. 2020; 4(2); pp 1-2.

a mainstay in safeguarding public health and national well-being. Poor water and sanitation propagate waterborne infectious diseases and other ailments that are caused by unsafe water. Waterborne diseases caused by bacteria, parasites and virus add substantially to worldwide morbidity and mortality. Various diseases including but not limited to diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio have been attributed to consumption of feacal contaminated water. It is estimated that over 485,000 deaths each year are caused by diarrhoea associated with consumption of water or food contaminated with infectious agents, which often come from human and animal waste. Other diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, trachoma, and schistosomiasis are associated with contamination of water with vectors including mosquitoes and helminths also contribute to increased morbidity and mortality globally [1-3]. Other than microbial contamination, chemicals such as pesticides, hydrocarbons, persistent organic pollutants, or heavy metals contribute to morbidity and mortality. Noted are the increased number of persons affected with cancers, hormonal problems, damaged nervous systems, liver and kidney damage, slower growth and even death associated with consumption of chemically contaminated water [4]. In many parts of the world the quality and safety of drinking water continues to be an important public health issue despite an agenda to ensure equitable access to safe water and adequate sanitation; Target 7c of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 7c) aimed to halve the population that had no sustainable access to water and basic sanitation before 2015 but this was not achieved and carried on to the Sustainable Development Goals – SDG Target 6.1 which calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water. Despite these strategies, it is anticipated that by 2025, half of the world’s population will still be living in water-stressed areas [5,6]. Conclusion Despite the fact that in 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation, emphasising that everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use, many individuals, families and communities do not have access to such a supply. And where there is an abundance of fresh water, these areas still face other challenges of pollution, activities such as industry and waste, inadequate or ineffective sanitation and other negative forces. Inadequate or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks. Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) remain important determinants of health, therefore, key intervention strategies for reducing preventable morbidity, mortality and health care costs must be considered. Adequate safe and readily available water remains essential for individual and public health, as well as being a social determinant of health. It is important therefore that countries ensure improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources. An improved status will in turn boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to poverty reduction. We must all play a role in ensuring Universal access to WASH for all!


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4. Science Direct. Water Pollutant. URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/water-pollutant

5. World Health Organisation. URL: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water

6. Itchon GS, Gensch R. Water Sanitation and Health. URL: https://sswm.info/arctic-wash/module-3-health-risk-assessment/ further-resources-indigenous-health-social-determinants/water%2C-sanitation-and-health.