JIS News

The Ministry of Health is advising Jamaicans to treat water and practise proper solid waste disposal habits in order to protect against waterborne diseases arising from contaminated supplies in the current unstable weather.
Peter Knight, Director of Environmental Health at the Ministry, told JIS News that it was of utmost importance for citizens to ensure that supplies were clean, especially with the recent passage of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily.
“Citizens should use water that is treated and is from a good source”, he stated. “It can be treated by boiling or using bleach before drinking or being used to wash fruits, vegetables or plates,” he further advised.
He is also encouraging persons to exercise proper waste disposal habits and practise good hand washing. “It also important that people have enough water to carry out their daily sanitation chores,” he noted.
Mr. Knight explained that waterborne diseases arose from the ingestion of contaminated water or ice, as well as from wading or swimming in unclean water. In addition, diseases can be contracted from the inhalation of aerosol generated from water that contains germs.
Common waterborne diseases are gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery. Mr. Knight explained that the effects of these diseases included mild to acute infections associated with diarrhoea.
He noted that approximately 1.6 to 2.3 million deaths occurred yearly worldwide from poor water quality and that waterborne diseases prevented millions of persons from enjoying a good quality of life.
The Director also informed, that in addition to issuing public advisories about proper water treatment, the Ministry was also working in the emergency shelters, to advise people on proper sanitation methods.
In addition, he explained that agencies such as the National Water Commission (NWC), Parish Councils and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, which supplied water to communities, were putting out advisories and supporting the Ministry to inform citizens of correct water treatment.
“Right after the disaster, it is not going to possible for that level of treatment that we are accustomed to as the providers of water will face challenges such as turbidity or dirty water and the NWC, the major supplier, has been telling people to follow the advisories of the Ministry,” Mr. Knight explained.
He said that persons have been heeding the warnings and were contacting the Ministry to get advice on how to properly treat water.
Mr. Knight told JIS News, that while the ultimate protection of water supplies lay with the NWC, the Ministry had a drinking water quality-monitoring programme, whereby it monitored water along the supply chain to ensure that the Commission was carrying out its responsibility.