Food, Health And Safety: Water, Sanitation And Hygiene

A significant amount of disease could be prevented through access to safe water supply, adequate sanitation services and better hygiene practices. Diarrhoeal disease alone amounts to an estimated 3.6 % of the total Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) global burden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million people every year (WHO 2012).

It is estimated that 58% of that burden, or 842 000 deaths per year, is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene and includes 361 000 deaths of children under age five, mostly in low-income countries (WHO 2014).

Adequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) play a key role in preventing many more diseases, improving nutritional outcomes and for the provision of quality care in healthcare settings.Unsafe drinking-water and poor sanitation and hygiene can present significant health risks by exposing populations to various microbial, chemical, and other hazards.

Ghana is in a situation where most of our sources of drinking water are heavily polluted; illegal mining (Galamsey), poor farming practises and poor sanitation has destroyed most water source in ghana.

The truth is, even the rigorous purification processes of the water company may not be enough to adequately clean our drinking water. We have come to a point where extreme care must be taken with the water that flows through our taps.

WASH can prevent a wide range of diseases which may include:

• those due to ingestion of water contaminated by microorganisms and chemicals such as diarrhoea, arsenicosis and fluorosis;
• diseases like schistosomiasis which have part of their lifecycle in water;
• diseases like soil-transmitted helminthiasis resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene;
• diseases like malaria or dengue with water-related vectors;
• and others such as legionellosis carried by aerosols containing certain micro-organisms.

Beware of water for household purposes and ensure safe and hygienic surrounding. The current situation in Ghana places us at risk but you can choose to live a very deliberate life of ensuring you live a safe life to avoid diseases and risk to health.

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About author

Hakim Tabas

Hakim Tabas is Health, Safety and Environmental Practitioner with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Occupational safety, Health and Environmental Management from GIMPA, Ghana. He thinks of Health and Safety as a calling and is very dedicated to the practice. He is affectionately known by colleagues and friends as Don Tono.

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