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May 6, 2015

Contaminated water in schools giving rise to infections in students

Islamabad

May 6, 2015

Rawalpindi
Contaminated water and poor hygienic conditions in a number of schools operating both in private and public sectors in the district are posing major threat to health of students though none of the concerned government authorities have given any attention to the problem so far.
Health experts believe that the consumption of unfit for use drinking water being provided to a number of schools may cause spread of waterborne infections, including hepatitis A & E, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and dysentery, among students causing huge damage to their health and studies. It is also observed that managements of the majority of schools, particularly in private sector, do not follow standard operating procedures on hygienic conditions and washrooms in schools are not cleaned up to the required standards.
A number of parents of schoolchildren, particularly those studying in private educational institutions in congested localities of town, have complained of poor hygienic conditions in schools. The parents of students bringing their children to the allied hospitals in town for treatment of water-borne infections say that educational institutions do not give attention to provision of clean drinking water to students. As per rule, all private schools registered with the government need a fitness certificate on hygienic conditions every year, which is given after testing quality of drinking water and examining hygienic conditions in academic institutions.
District Health Officer Dr. Rafiq Ahmed, when contacted by ‘The News’ on Tuesday, said that the health department has deputed a sanitary inspector to monitor schools operating in the district. However, at present, he has been engaged in an ongoing anti-polio drive under Short-Interval Additional Dose (SIAD) in 28 high-risk union councils of the district. He said that the health department has involved even all its peons for carrying out activities under ongoing SIAD campaign due to shortage of staff.


To a query, he admitted that at present the health department has not been collecting samples of drinking water from schools for quality checking. He, however, added that as soon as the SIAD concludes, sanitary inspector of the health department would start collecting drinking water samples from schools operating in the district.
In the past, top officials of the health department have admitted that the monitoring of schools for provision of clean drinking water and hygienic conditions was not as effective as it should have been. Many private schools do not work properly throughout the year for provision of clean drinking water to students. It is alleged that they managed to get fitness certificates by using political influence or with the help of concerned staff through underhand deals.
Dr. Rafiq Ahmed said after the SIAD campaign, his office would launch a comprehensive campaign to ensure clean drinking water in schools and take steps to monitor hygienic conditions in schools on regular basis.

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