19 May 2008

Nigeria: Safe Water is Produced Only When Water Producers Conform to Standards - Akunyili

Too often we focus on just water, worrying about drought and scarcity. But the health of the world depends on it being clean, too. While rampant water-borne disease has generally been consigned to the history books in this country, dirty water still causes chronic and often lethal health problems for many people in underdeveloped nations where children may not survive a bout with diarrhea.

It is an overstatement to say that among all known natural resources water is an indispensable resource, permeating every aspect of human and animal life. The use of water spans agriculture which share about 80 per cent of the world water demand, to domestic and industrial uses. Water is needed for sustenance of life. It is known that the human body is made up of about 70 per cent of water.

However, if potable water for drinking is contaminated, it can pose serious danger to human and animal health. It is proven that the disease burden of most developing countries are as a result of water borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, gastroentritis, amoebiasis, hepatitis, schistosomiasis, schigellia, typhoid amongst others.

Available data from World Health Organisation shows that about three million people die every year as a result of water borne diseases. The human cost is enormous. But think, too, of the toll these kinds of diseases take on a nation's attempt to build its economy. Sick people can't work.

Children miss school or simply stay away, making it difficult to rear the next generation of leaders and skilled workers. Women and girls face even more hurdles to equality if they do not have privacy and clean water to attend to their bodily functions.

This is, however, some of the reasons the Federal Government established the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) by decree N0. 15 of 1993 now referred to as an Act; N1 of 2004.

This law empowers NAFDAC to control and regulate the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of drugs, food, medical devices, cosmetics, chemicals, detergents and packaged water. Packaged water must be adequately treated to meet the international and national standards.

According to Director General NAFDAC, Prof. Dora Akunyili, where purified water is for sale, the component of the packaging material should not leach or impact colour or other taste to the water.

The label on packaged water and other water-based drinks should conform to the NAFDAC Labelling Regulations and must have the required information on the label such as Brand or Trade name of the product, Name and location address of manufacturer, Batch No, Manufacturing date, Best Before Date which should be two months from the date of production for sachet water and 1 year for bottled water, NAFDAC Registration Number, Total volume and Ingredient list (incase of water-based drinks)

Akunyili stated that NAFDAC insists on Good Manufacturing Practice in water Production.

According to her, a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliance is to ensure that the products are of good quality and safe for human consumption. It is a requirement that products and method used in their manufacture, processing, packaging, or storage confirm to those practices, which will assure that such products meet the required Regulatory Standard with respect to safety, identity, strength, wholesomeness and purity.

She noted that when Standards in water treatment and packaging are conformed to, safe potable water is produced. Water borne diseases are eliminated and good health is assured.

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