GOVERNMENT''S disquiet was prompted by recent media reports that indicated that piped water in Kampala and the neighboring districts was contaminated with feacal matter
By Alfred Wandera
MINISTRIES of Health and Environment and the national water utility have allayed fears that piped water in Kampala is contaminated, saying tests carried out on the suspected polluted water turned negative.
The Director General of Health Services, Dr. Ruth Aceng, the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) managing director, Dr. Silver Mugisha and state minister for Environment, Flavia Nabugere Munaaba, turned up Media Centre in Kampala to give a brief on the state of water in the city.
Munaaba was the first to brief the media and was followed shortly by Mugisha and Aceng in a separate press conference.
“As of March 7, we extracted several samples of water from our system for testing and we found out that they were all complying with the national standards. We also tested for chlorine residue in the water samples and established that it was there. Where there is chlorine residue, there is no disease causing organisms that can survive,” said Mugisha.
The Government officials’ disquiet was prompted by recent media reports that indicated that piped water in Kampala and the neighboring districts was contaminated with feacal matter, escalating the spread of typhoid in the city.
Mugisha noted that the water supplied by NWSC is safe upto the point it enters its destination of final consumption.
“Our water is safe up to the moment it enters your premises depending on the equipment you use to dispense it for your consumption. Some people use already contaminated containers to fetch clean water. So you can’t blame NWSC when you fail to make good use of the safe water we supply to you,” added Mugisha.
Mugisha urged the public to always ensure that water being used for human consumption is boiled irrespective of its source.
“Whether the water is supplied by NWSC or from any other source, always ensure that it is well boiled to make it safe for drinking. In Mpererwe, a dead cat was found in the water tank which contaminated the water. Obviously, NWSC could not have supplied a dead cat through its water,” explained Mugisha.
In addition to affirming the safety of water supplied by NWSC, Munaaba decried the reduction of Government funding to her ministry, saying it will affect service delivery to the public. She said less than 3% is to be set aside for the Ministry of Water and Environment in the national budget in the next financial year.
Aceng and Mugisha were flanked by World Health Organization’s (WHO) Disease Prevention and Control Officer, Dr Miriam Nanyunja.
Aceng came to the defence of the quality of water supplied by NWSC, saying water and fruit juices packed in polythene bags are the major causes of typhoid and not water supplied by the national water utility.
She said the Ministry of water and Environment has embarked on a programme to test water points in Kampala city and its suburbs including bore holes, springs and wells among other sources.
Giving an update on the current status of typhoid since she declared its outbreak in Kampala on February 19, Aceng said the Government set up an inter-ministerial committee after the disease was confirmed, under the Office of the Prime Minister to coordinate all efforts geared towards the management of the epidemic.
The committee is composed of experts from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water and Environment, Kampala Capital City Authority and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Nanyunja said WHO has the responsibility of providing technical support to the inter-ministerial task force.
“We have designated five treatment centers in Kampalaa to offer treatment to people reporting with signs and symptoms of typhoid. These are Kisenyi, Kiswa, Kisugu, Kawala and Komamboga. Other hospitals in Kampala and neighboring districts have also been beefed up with typhoid drugs in case they, too, receive patients,” said Aceng.
He noted that Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have joined the case management team by providing more health workers in the health facilities.
“National Water and Sewerage Corporation has installed stand pipes in areas with poor access to clean water in Kampala,” she explained.
However, she noted the growing number of typhoid cases in Kampala, saying out of the 4949 recorded cases as of March 19, 1033 tested positive for typhoid. Aceng added that those who test negative for typhoid but positive for malaria are enrolled onto the malaria treatment.
Aceng further clarified on earlier reports that indicated that there was an outbreak of typhoid in another 14 districts in the country.
“A critical verification of data from these districts indicates that there are some suspected cases of typhoid in these districts but there is no confirmation yet of the cases. Our experts have been sent to these districts to verify these reports,” said Aceng.
The other 14 districts that had earlier been said to have been affected with typhoid are Kween, Isingiro, Ssembabule, Bukwo, Bugiri, Maracha, Wakiso, Mukono, Pallisa, Kibaale, Arua, Kabarole, Manafwa and Nebbi.
Kampala water safe – Govt