Never before this year of pandemic, have we realized the importance of water for the health system. We want to remember it today, on the World Water Day: we may take such resource for granted in our hospitals in Italy, where there is no problem of supply, but water becomes crucial in Africa where its scarcity is a daily challenge in addition to many other difficulties, as the threat of Covid-19.
“The health staff of the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has to cope with water shortages everyday. Water is essential for preventing and controlling infections but also for the hospital’s routine activities, such as cleaning, childbirth assistance, surgical interventions and activities in hospital wards and clinics – says Claudia Caracciolo from Doctors with Africa CUAMM – ”. “CUAMM guarantees a constant supply of water to the hospital two or more times a week – continues Claudia – but the demand is so significant that the supply is not always sufficient and often the relatives of hospitalized patients have to bring a bucket of water for personal use”.
Even in Angola, where droughts are increasingly frequent and last long, water shortage affects health services but also the food security of the whole country.
“During the rainy season (November-April), it has rained a maximum of 4 times – says Marta Piccolo, area coordinator in Chiulo -. It was incredible to see the streets invaded by herds and shepherds, forced to move for hundreds km due to drought, in search of water. They’re coming back now because it started raining 2 weeks ago. “
In Chiulo, Doctors with Africa CUAMM signed several contracts with water suppliers to cover the needs of the hospital and the maternity waiting homes: 3 tanker trucks, which carry 22,000 litres of water a week. Now the goal is to try to ensure water supply to other health centers as well.
“In the Mucope area, out of 8 health centers, only 3 have access to safe water resources via a solar panel pump. Some are close to the river and the water is collected from there. Another one is located near a company that produces rice and that provides it with water when necessary. The municipal tanker truck that should supply the HC often does not arrive because it has no petrol or it is broken – says Marta -. CUAMM, supported by Manos Unidas and in collaboration with the municipal administration, will install tanks in the health centers where they are lacking to guarantee the supply of water ”.
World Water Day reminds us that water should not be taken for granted and encourages us to take action in order to make water increasingly available to those who need it most, so as not to endanger the lives of millions of people.