No proper chlorination cause of hepatitis: Official
Following the massive outbreak of hepatitis A in Gampola lasting more than three weeks, Health Ministry officials said that Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya and Kegalle districts are vulnerable to this virus as large numbers of people in these areas use untreated water from lakes and rivers.
Health Ministry Epidemiology Unit Director Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe said that even though in some areas there are standard water schemes, the greater number of people draw water from streams, lakes and rivers for personal use.
“Chlorination of water has been done but not by using proper standards. Usually a few cases of hepatitis are reported regularly, but this time it was a large outbreak and beyond the control of the health officers. Proper chlorination should have been done a long time ago. At least we should make sure that these kinds of large outbreaks won’t take place in future” he said.
He said the Health Ministry with the help of the Water Supply and Drainage Board is taking steps to ensure proper chlorination.
Gampola Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Ibralebbe said from May 1 up to yesterday 577 patients suffering from the virus have been admitted to the hospital.
“Most of them were males and 69% were school children. After much field activities by the medical officers, schools and the Urban Council authorities, we were able to control the outbreak. We believe that the main reason is that water has been contaminated with faeces,” he said. Central Province Director of Health Dr. Shanthi Samarasinghe said the water was polluted with hepatitis A virus and poor toilet systems too had contributed to the spreading of the virus.
“Three out of four reservoirs were contaminated with this virus. We are hoping to begin a project of building toilets with a proper drainage system. It is impossible to arrange a safe drainage system by digging pits in these areas as they are rocky. We are hoping to provide septic tanks for 225 houses near these reservoirs. This will cost at least Rs.1.2 million and we are hoping to get the support of the Water Board and the Finance Ministry,” she said. She said that house-to-house programmes were being held in these areas with more than 100 medical officers instructing people to drink only boiled cool water, eat food prepared at home and on personal hygiene.