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Opinions of Sunday, 10 May 2009

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

How safe is the Sachet "Pure Water?"

The "sachet pure water" on rampant sale in the streets, and on the roads, and in the shops in Ghana may not be pure after all. May I ask if the numerous manufacturers of Pure Water in Ghana have all been approved by the Ghana Food and Standard Board? If they have, how did the Ghana Food & Standard Board go about such approvals? Were their mini-factories for the production of the water visited by qualified agents of the Board? Have they approved of the environment and the conditions under which each manufacturer produces their pure water? Were samples of their products taken to the laboratory to be tested to ensure they are healthy and good for human consumption? How often are surprise checks made to the "Pure water" production centres to investigate the method of their production and the purity of the product?

The pure water from my personal investigations conducted by interviewing some patients indicates that it poses greater health hazard to the people of Ghana. It is the greater, if not the greatest, contributor to the frequent typhoid fever tormenting Ghanaians of late. It therefore stands to reason that the production of the water, and the water itself, be subjected to stringent health and safety test before the seal of approval is given by the Ghana Food & Standard Board.

Many manufacturers dig wells anyhow and anywhere, to start producing the supposed pure water which is but never pure. They dig wells at insanitary places; not far from overflowing gutters. Wherever they think to reach the water table quicker, irrespective of its unsanitary conditions, the factory is set up. The water in many cases is germ-infested, raising a cause for alarm. How does the changing of the filters which though never in anyway kill the germs monitored?

How long can the water be stored outside the shops in such extremely warm/hot climatic conditions? What is the cause for the sliminess of some of the sachet waters? That is, the sometimes thick sticky slippery substance in the interior of the plastic sachet when you feel it or slit it up? This can give rise to one getting infected somehow when the water is drunk.

I understand some hospitals and clinics are aware of the dangers inherent in drinking the pure water. What statistics on this causing typhoid fever have they passed on to the Ghana Medical Council/Association if there exists any? Have they notified the Minister of Health about their concerns on the dominant sale of pure water with its concomitant health risks in Ghana? If affirmatively answered, what are the relevant authorities doing to arrest the escalation of its lethal risk to the consuming public? The incidents of typhoid fever are now on the rise, being one of the major diseases killing people in Ghana. It is attracted through the consumption of contaminated water or food.

I suggest the production of the pure water is strictly regulated. Its expiry date must be revisited considering the insalubrious and the harsh climatic conditions of its conservation. The bottled "Voltic" mineral water has not the problems identified with the sachet pure water, why? That one is produced under different healthy conditions by responsible manufacturers. They are not like those individuals aspiring to get rich quick by taking after quick-fix factors; entering into cost effective and easily produced pure water requiring not much capital outlay. I believe chemically treated pipe borne water is a ten times better than the said pure water. Then again, some water pipes or conduits pass through stinking flowing gutters. This is a common sight, especially in Accra. The pipe water stands to be contaminated when the pipe gets burst somehow, allowing the dirty gutter water through to people's homes.

Please Medical doctors and Ghana Food & Standard Board advise us on this health scare situation. Ban any pure water undertaking that does not meet stricter Health & Safety requirements. If the attraction/fountain waters in public places especially parks, in London, can be regularly tested against possible contamination and infection, why then not the pure water that we consume in Ghana?

I cannot keep all of my anger at the impurity of what is supposed to be pure bottled up inside me. Finally, I will admonish as many people as possible, to stay away from the consumption of "pure water" until the doctors and the Ghana Food & Standard Board have come out with safer guidelines.

"Prevention is better than cure"

Rockson Adofo, London