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04.11.2008 Health

Health alert! Human excreta flood waters

By Daily Guide

People living along the banks of water bodies have been cautioned against drinking directly from their immediate water sources.

This is because greater percentage of water bodies such as streams, lakes and rivers in certain areas is said to be exposed to unhealthy human practices such as indiscriminate defecation and disposal of human faeces by nursing parents.

Consuming water directly from infected water bodies does not only expose the individual to ailments such as Diarrhoea, worm infestation, Trachoma, Pneumonia and other Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs), but also leads to the cause of irreparable damage to the individual's health.

Reports indicate that more than 57 percent of Ghanaian nursing parents use unsafe methods to dispose of their under 2 children's faeces.

This has not only been a source of grave worry to stakeholders like the Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Platform (WSMP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, but has prompted a number of local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to launch an intensive education on the proper disposal of human waste products.

Briefing HEALTH MATTERS on Friday, Mr. Emmanuel Addai, an officer with the Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Platform described the situation as alarming, saying, “There is the need to intensify education on safe disposal of child's faeces in the country, especially in the rural areas.”

He said the reports, captured in the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2006) of the Ghana Statistical Service identified six different child faeces disposal methods in the country, only two of which were safe disposal methods.

“The unsafe methods are those where the child's faeces are rinsed into drains, thrown into garbage containers or heaps, buried and or left in the open.

“Though the practice is common in both urban and rural areas, it is very common in the rural areas where more than 61 percent of the people practiced unsafe disposal of child's faeces; when critically analysed, there is no difference between these unsafe methods and open defecation by adults,” he pointed out.

These unhealthy practices, he noted, had contributed to the massive pollution of the country's water bodies.

Mr. Addai mentioned the proper methods as either rinsing the child's faeces directly into pit latrines or making the child use the toilet facility.

The concerns, raised by the Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform formed part of its 3-year pilot project being undertaken nationwide.

He said similar pilot projects were being undertaken in Mozambique and Nigeria.

He called on the general public, especially nursing parents to adopt proper methods in disposing of their children's excreta.

Source: Daily Guide