The new technology, which is primarily made to remove bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, dirt and small particles, does not use any chemicals
Sarah Opendi (right), Steven Otieno and the managing director Uganda Health Marketing Group, Joy Tamale, drinking water during the launch of Life Straw products yesterday. Photo by Nancy Nanyonga
The Government has launched a new technology that ensures access to safe drinking water for all. The technology, dubbed ‘Life Straw’, is an instant microbiological water purifier that treats water at the point of use.
According to the water and environment sector performance review 2016-17, although the national safe water coverage in rural areas increased to 70% from 67%, it still remains a challenge as many rely on shallow wells, protected springs and deep boreholes that are easily contaminated.
The new technology, which is primarily made to remove bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, dirt and small particles, does not use any chemicals.
Speaking during the launch of the technology in Kampala yesterday, the state minister for health in charge of general duties, Sarah Opendi, said the technology although requires a lot of sensitisation among the masses, will save the Government sh389billion it spends on treating preventable diseases, some of which are a result of contaminated water, poor hygiene and sanitation.
Why filter at the point of use?
“Point of use treatment is an approach that can accelerate the health gains associated with the provision of safe drinking water to risk populations. In other words, it empowers people to control the quality of their own drinking water,” said Steven Otieno, the country director of Vestergaard (the makers of Life Straw).
He said treating water in the home at the point-of-use also reduces the risk of waterborne diseases arising from recontamination during collection, transport and use in the home, a well-known cause of water quality degradation.
Water borne diseases include typhoid, dysentery, cholera, diarrhea, bilharzia, polio and Hepatitis E.
However diarrhea alone, though preventable and treatable, is the second leading cause of death among children under five years in Uganda, killing up to 14,000 children.
Opendi said plans are underway to have the rotavirus vaccine for children rolled out next year. Rotavirus vaccine is an oral vaccine against rotavirus infection, a common cause of diarrhea.
The product (Life Straw) can be used for households, schools, clinics and community centres and has the capacity to purify up to 25 litres of water at ago and between 70,000 and 100,000 litres for a period of four to five years.
“A fisherman in Lake Victoria for example who has no access to clean drinking water, will only require a life straw, to drink water directly from the lake,” Otieno explained.
Currently, the Uganda Health Marketing Group is the sole distributor for Life Straw products including straws, bottles, and water containers.
The prices range from sh37,000, sh110,000, sh207,500 and sh1.3m respectively.