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Water is essential to life, but there are diseases

Every person requires 2 litres of water a day for basic physiological needs. If water has to be fetched from one kilometer away, people will manage with a total of about six litres a day; if they can get water from a tap in the compound, they will use up to 25 litres; and where a house is provided with many taps and there are flushing latrines, they will use 100 litres or more each a day.

With those figures on the lowest scale of the expected amount of water an adult or a person should use a day 40 liters,
is the amount expected and number accepted. Our figures tell us Dar es Salaam as city and region needs more water than what it can provide.

My message to the water authority bodies in particular and the community in general. We should aim to get enough water first, and then improve the quality. It is the long-term aim of the governments to provide piped water for all, but before this happens there are many simple improvements that can be made in village supplies to ensure that both a larger quantity and better quality of water are increasingly available.

Rain water harvesting is a means of getting water but technical part not known and under exploited. It is a known fact that water is essential to life. It is part of every cell in our bodies and is necessary for most basic functions like breathing and digestion. There will be no chemical process that will take place in your body if there is no water.

Water is also a good solvent and many substances, some useful and some harmful to life, may be dissolved in it. Water can affect health in a number of different ways. Lack of water for personal hygiene may result in the increased transmission of some diseases, called water-washed diseases. Water may carry the organisms of specific disease, called waterborne diseases. Or it may be necessary in the life cycle of disease vector-such diseases are called water-related diseases.

The important diseases affected by water in these ways are: Water-washed disease like diarrhea and dysentery (blood diarrhea), skin diseases (including scabies-upele) eye diseases (including trachoma-trakoma ugonjwa wa vikope). There is no way that can be done not to get the water washed diseases if there are no guarantees for supplying the precious commodity badly needed than petrol. The stench-bad smell that comes out from unwashed bodies in any situation is pathetic.

One cannot keep his or her body without washing it with water. There will be no perfume or deodorant that will remove the bad smell from your body if water will not be used to keep it clean and refreshed. Water-borne diseases are like; typhoid (homa ya matumbo) a very serious disease very frightening than malaria because of its virulence, cholera which is not uncommon in our society, less severe now than it used to be.

I am told it has waned down because of the availability of bottled plastic water of many makes in and around the whole country (utandawazi umesaidia) let us cross our fingers that with this great shortage of water, we do not welcome cholera (kipindupindu) again, polio virus can be transmitted as a water-borne disease because of the excretion of the virus in the stools to cause faecal-oral contamination, amebiasis (ugonjwa wa amiba) it used to be very common in and around Moshi localities as a result of local brew called mbege where water used in the process of brewing it comes from nearby streams.

Hepatitis A is also a viral disease which can be acquired through faecal oral contamination. Water related diseases are; malaria which we get after the rainy seasons for the Anopheles mosquitoes breeding in clean stagnant waters, bilharzias (kichocho) very common in and around the whole coastal zone from Tanga, Dare s Salaam, Lindi, Mtwara, Pemba and Zanzibar (Unguja ) and places in and around the Victoria lake regions just to mention a few places.

It is estimated that there are 20 thousand Tanzanians dying annually due to bliharzia complications, the disease if left unchecked and unattended in future lead to cancer of the bladder (saratani ya kibofu cha mkojo). Credit to the Governments of United Republic of Tanzania on the mainland and the Revolutionary government of Zanzibar for putting in place as a public good programme for bilharzias control in schools and those hard hit communities free medicines in the form of tablets praziquantile are offered freely.

River Blindness (Onchocerciasis pronounced as onkosekayasis) is a water related disease where the black flies live in fast flowing rivers in places like the Usambara Mountains, Ruvuma, Kilosa and Tukuyu. River blindness is labeled as one of the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) where the government through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has a control programme. Another disease which is water related is Sleeping sickness (ugonjwa wa malale) it makes the areas inhabitable where animals and human beings cannot live comfortably.

When trying to control the diseases mentioned, we should consider carefully the role that water plays. The water washed diseases are diseases, preventable by washing, transmitted by the faecal-oral route due to lack of washing hands, eating utensils and vegetables, and secondly by lack of personal hygiene-washing the face, eyes and body.

The main cause of this is lack of water, generally because there is very little water available or because it has to be carried a long way, requiring time and energy. The water-borne diseases, in contrast, are due to dirty water containing the disease organisms themselves. To prevent an increase in water-washed diseases, the quantity of water is important. To prevent water-borne diseases it is necessary to improve the quality of water.

As water-washed diseases are generally common than waterborne diseases, much can be done to improve health by making more water available. Of course, the cleaner and purer the water the better, but it should not delay increasing the quantity of water available to people just because we cannot obtain the best quality. It is very expensive to be poor citing the way water has surrounded our country, and yet we cannot use it adequately for our own economic development.

amzigetz@yahoo.com.

PRESIDENTIAL election race 2020 has kicked off and ...

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Author: Dr ALI MZIGE

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