23 November 2012

Zambia: University Teaching Hospital Water Crisis a Bitter Lesson


THE water crisis at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) could have been avoided had there been measures in place to forestall any disruption.

UTH is the biggest referral health institution which must have a steady supply of water all the time.

It is hoped therefore that the disruption in the supply of water has served as a lesson for all concerned to always have an alternative source of the commodity at a vital institution such as the UTH.

Going by the overused term 'water is life' life can never be normal without constant supply of safe and clean drinking water particularly in a health institution which should be replete with life-saving requisites.

It is inconceivable that a health institution can run for some days without water which is required for washing linen and dishes as well as for use in critical areas such as wards, theatre, and the mortuary.

Even in a smallest health centre, water must run all the time for use in treatment and cleaning of the premises.

In fact, water and sanitation are integral aspects of ensuring environmental sustainability, as per Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number seven.

It therefore follows that the availability or lack of water affects health, education and the economy.

President Michael Sata during the tour in fact stressed that UTH and other health institutions should always have water because of the critical nature of the services they offer to the community.

The Head of State appreciates the seriousness of an erratic water supply to a 'life-saving' institution and it is expected that the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company and UTH management will ensure the problem does not recur.

UTH must install sufficient water pumps and overhead as well as underground reservoirs so that water supply is constant.

Security must be enhanced at the institution to keep vandals and other criminals away while the mindset among health and other employees should change positively.

Patients require maximum care and cleanliness to respond positively to treatment in good time.

One would not want to imagine the state of bathrooms and lavatories when there is a disruption in water supply at an institution as big as UTH.

This institution carries out some of the delicate and complicated operations that require the use of plenty of water.

It is therefore disastrous to have a water crisis at UTH; this should be the last time.

We are however confident that more resources will be mobilised and invested in upgrading the water reticulation system at this institution.

No one should start apportioning blame, but all concerned must sit down and come up with a long-term solution.

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