Waterborne diseases have a great burden on both public health and economy.
Globally, 4 billion cases of diarrhea occur annually, out of which around 2 million people die. In developing countries like Ghana, nearly 80% of all diseases are linked to water and sanitation; and children bear the greatest health burden.
Throughout history, there have been many occasions when hundreds of thousands of people have fallen sick and many left dead because, disease-causing germs have been spread through a community by a contaminated water supply.
Despite access to adequate amounts of clean water being crucial to human health and development, there are still some 700 million people worldwide without access to improved sources of drinking water. Currently, Ghana’s performance in the delivery of selected water and sanitation services (like access to piped water) is poor as compared to other middle-income countries.
In spite of the immeasurable human dependence on clean water, fresh water resources in Ghana are concurrently coming under increasing pressure from factors such as pollution, rapid population growth and climate change.
Contamination of drinking water supplies by damaged septic tank system
Recent studies show an emerging trend suggesting that, septic tank systems routinely discharge pathogens, pharmaceuticals, consumer product chemicals, and other potentially hazardous chemicals into our environment. Once discharged, these toxic substances usually end up in groundwater and drinking water supplies, raising health problems.
The concentrations of these contaminants are usually found to exceed the World Health Organisation permissible limit for drinking water and other domestic needs.
Damaged and leaking septic tanks
While a properly constructed, situated and maintained septic tank does not pose environmental and health problems, certain problems can arise from unstandardized tank system. They include odour and gas emissions; excess nutrients seepage into waterbodies; groundwater and surface water pollution.
How can I lend a helping hand as a CITIZEN?
Waterborne diseases have a great burden on both public health and economy; they place a heavy burden on the entire population. Every necessary helpful intervention must, therefore, be supported by all and sundry.
S. R. Coleman
The author is a microbiologist/researcher and Director at Food and Water Foundation Ghana.