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Water is life

By Helena Selby - Ghanaian Chronicle

The importance of Water can be compared to life. It is therefore amazing the reason why people do not place great value on it. Why is water not protected enough since it gives life to people, just like people love to protect their lives. It is common knowledge that it is impossible to live without water. Despite the fact that water is important, its accessibility is very difficult. In many parts of Ghana and the world, people find it difficult getting clean potable water for their consumption, daily chores and for other activities. Even animals, at certain periods, experience difficulty in finding drinking water. In the remote and rural areas where treated water is scarce to come by, streams and rivers are what the people normally depend on.

The rural dwellers suffer the consequences of using untreated water like being infected by water-borne diseases like river blindness and guinea worm among others. The scarcity of water can be attributed to the rapid growth of the world's population. Its availability in various populated regions is on the agenda of many governmental organisations. The situation in certain towns and cities are a little different due to the existence of modernity and technology. In recent years, people have seen the need to package water for human consumption. As a result there has been the production of bottled and sachet water for easy convenience and consumption. Though it has been of great help to many people, it has at the same time been of great harm to people's health. How important is water?

According Dr Stephen Boadu, of the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) Hospital, in Tema, water is very important to man. He advised that people drink water early in the morning, which is very good for the body. Drinking of water helps to boost the immune system. Every human being must try to take at least two litters of water every day. Water is lost from the body in the form of urine, faeces, perspiration and by exhalation of water vapour through breathing. Humans require tap water that does not contain too many salt or other impurities like chemicals or harmful bacteria. He made it clear that since the body loses a lot of water through daily human activities, it is important to replenish the lost water in the body, so that it could function well. Dehydration, which is a lack of water in the body, resulting from inadequate intake of fluids or excessive loss through sweating, vomiting or diarrhea can cause death.

Watershed Wellness Center in America also stresses on the relevance of water to human beings. According to them the human body is 69% water, the brain is 85% water, with the bones 35% water, blood contains 83% water and the liver has 90% water. There is the need to drink half our body weight each day. For instance, if you weigh 200 lbs, you should consume 100 ounces of water. Every organ in the body heavily depends on water to function properly and to its capacity. If really 85% of the brain and 95% of body cell is made up of water, then it can be said that taking more water can help one to boost the human ability of thinking and understanding issues. Water is crucial to every bodily operation and when we become dehydrated, the body instinctively begins to ration water to each organ. The brain, being the most important organ, gets the most water. The skin, being the least important, is rationed the least amount of water. Chronically, dry skin and/or dandruff are signs of advanced bodily dehydration. It is the law of vital adaptation at work. That the body will do what it has to do to survive, which in this case means the most important organs get served first. If the body didn't do that we would suffer the ill effects of dehydration much more rapidly. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, breast cancer by 79%, and develops bladder cancer by 50%. Consumers and sachet water Consumers of sachet water brands in Ghana complain about some brands not being of good quality, and even not appropriate for consumption.

According to Evans Mensah, a welder who lives in Tema, he had the experience of buying sachet water, which had particles in them, and they were also badly scented. He believes that the processing and packaging the water was under unhygienic conditions. Sometimes, the place where the water is processed is not tidy and the workers wear dirty cloths and they sometimes do not use nose masks. A lot of people complain about this same state of unhygienic activities concerning the production of the sachet water. According to Mrs. Olivia Acquah, a Trader at Ashaiman, some of the water tastes very awful in the sense that one feels nausea when the water is drank. Some diseases associated unhygienic water The end results of drinking unhygienic water are normally diseases. Some diseases, associated with contaminated or unhygienic water include typhoid fever, cholera and diarrhoea. According to the MedicalNet.Com, these diseases are contracted by the ingestion of the bacteria in contaminated water.

The bacterium that causes typhoid is deposited in water by a human carrier, and is then spread to other people. Dysentery, which is also a disease related with water is an infection of the digestive system that results in severe diarrhoea, containing mucus and blood in the faeces and is typically the result of unsanitary water, containing micro-organisms which damage the intestinal lining. A clean water supply is the best way of preventing typhoid. Preventive measures Other preventive measures are; drinking water which has been boiled or treated with chlorine or iodine. Other safe beverages include tea and coffee made with boiled water, and carbonated bottled beverages with no ice. If the bacteria is deposited in water by human carriers, then the seller or server has the possibility of transferring the bacteria to consumers. According to an assessment made by the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion people lack access to improved water supply and that 135 million people will die from water related diseases by 2020. In the opinion of WHO, even the explicit millennium goals announced by the United Nations (UN) in 2000 are unlikely to be achieved, given current international commitment. Between 34 and 76 million people will perish from water related diseases by 2020. In their research, concerning water related diseases, it was discovered that over 30 species of parasites of water related diseases infect the human intestines. Ghana Standard Board (GSB) The Ghana Standards Board is the National Statutory Body responsible for the quality infrastructure of embracing Metrology, Standards, Testing, and Quality Assurance (MSTQ), including certification.

The GSB has two technical laboratories (Chemical & Physical) responsible for the testing of all categories of product. The products tested in these laboratories include food and Agric. Products and drugs, cosmetics and Forensic Products. Testing involves Technical Operation that consists of the supporting health care and safety implications and analysis to confirm suitability for use. According to GSB, certified products are regularly followed by routine quality audit at the factory by GSB inspectors and market surveillance on the products at the market place.

The licence has a validity period of one year and it is renewable for the same period. Though GSB has the responsibility of monitoring consumable products produced in the market, some of these products are able to beat their checks. Most of the sachet water producers have not being certified by GSB and do not have licences to operate. Due to this fact, their products do not go through the laboratories of the GSB to be tested for human consumption, hence generating all sorts of water borne diseases to the human body. Conclusion It is not only the responsibility of the GSB to monitor the production of these products, since we all consume it and have our health affected. There is the need for all Ghanaians to be vigilant and to report those without operating licences. For a nation to develop, it needs a labour force who are a strong and healthy, so it is our duty to learn how to stay healthy.