Zimbabwe: 10 Bottled Water Brands ‘A Health Risk’

Zimbabwe 10 Bottled Water Brands 'A Health Risk'

More than 10 brands of bottled water being sold in various shops pose a health risk to unsuspecting consumers as they have not been approved by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.

This comes in the wake of a study by researchers from the University of Zimbabwe and Masvingo Polytechnic which showed that some companies were selling water with high levels of nitrites that are responsible for cancer in humans.

The experts concluded that the bottled water also contained viable bacteria and heavy metals at levels that exceed limits set by the World Health Organisation Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.

According to the experts: Nitrites are transformed to amines and amides resulting in the formation of nitrosamines which have been found to cause gastric and oesophagal cancer. In infants, nitrites compete with oxygen for active sites on haemoglobin resulting in oxygen deprivation. For the safety of consumers, the nitrite levels should fall below the recommended maximum limit.

A comparison of the list of brands approved by SAZ and those being sold in shops and by vendors in Harare’s Central Business District showed that at least 10 brands were not among the 22 approved by SAZ.

SAZ certifies bottled water according to minimum standards set by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

The standards body has certified 22 brands since 2011 although the certification of three on the list expired in March this year.

The three whose certification has expired are Tanganda, Schweppes and Mukati Investments.

SAZ director-general Mrs Eve Gadzikwa said her organisation had an obligation to continuously inform the public on the status of bottled water sold to them.

“Water is certified after satisfying the SAZ national standard ZWS 457:1995,” she said. “As part of the process towards certification, bottling companies are required to meet the minimum requirements set by the Ministry of Health.

“SAZ undertakes regular checks on the bottled water company to verify continuous compliance to the standard. SAZ has an obligation to regularly publish the status of certified, suspended and withdrawn bottled waters.”

SAZ laboratories are accredited for Water Chemical Analysis testing in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Ms Rosemary Siyachitema said her organisation was carrying out its own investigations into the matter.

“We saw your article (on the research on bottled water by academics) and we are also carrying out our own investigations into the matter,” she said.

The CCZ has, however, called on Government to speed up the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act as part of measures to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices.

The country does not have legislation to safeguard the rights of consumers.

Source: all africa

Health Experts Call for Integrated Approach to HIV and TB in Zimbabwe

health experts

Zimbabwe is facing challenges in eliminating tuberculosis (TB) say health experts, who are calling for much greater integration of HIV and TB programmes within the healthcare system.

Tremendous progress has been made in minimising the spread of HIV while TB programming is weak in comparison, according to Michael Bartos, UNAIDS country director for Zimbabwe.

Strengthening coordination systems

Bartos told a recent workshop for Zimbabwean civil society organisations that there was an urgent need to strengthen coordinating systems across HIV, TB and malaria. The workshop was run by AIDS Accountability International in partnership with Southern Africa AIDS Trust and Zimbabwe AIDS network.

“We need, as civil society, to enhance HIV mobilisation to support TB. There is weak mobilisation of communities where it matters. The issue of resources also needs to be addressed if we are to succeed in eliminating the spread of TB,” Bartos said.

Civil society priorities

At the workshop, representatives from various HIV groups created a priorities charter as an ‘advocacy road map’ for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. The top priority was the need for a coordinating mechanism for HIV and TB, according to Dr Gemma Oberth, senior researcher at AIDS Accountability International.

“This is because HIV coordinating structures are disproportionately strong, compared with TB civil society networks,” Dr Oberth said.

Some of the priorities identified include prevention, treatment, advocacy, care and support, mitigation and stigma reduction.

Zimbabwe is ranked 17 among the 22 countries in the world worst affected by TB, according to a research project commissioned by the World Health Organisation.

Victoria James, director of New Dimension Consulting, which carried out the research, said: “The estimated incidence of new TB cases was 633 per 100,000 in 2010 compared to 97 per 100,000 in 1990, reflecting a growing trend.

Seventy-five per cent of adult TB cases are reported to be HIV co-infected, while HIV testing in TB is 97 per cent. The treatment rate is very low and civil society needs to focus more on playing a role to address the issues.”

She also highlighted some concerns involving new TB diagnoses, which are reported to have increased from 35,340 in 2013 to 38,725 in 2012.

Lack of resources

According to Dr Charles Sandy, deputy director of AIDS and TB programmes at the Ministry of Health and Child Care, TB is managed through the routine health system. The government is faced with the challenge of a lack of resources, although it collaborates with local and international partners.

“We are dependent on the health delivery system for success of the TB programme. Although we have made some progress in trying to address TB, we are facing challenges of a demotivated health workforce and lack of optimum work performance,” Dr Sandy said.

He added that community awareness in addressing TB was low and more resources were needed to address the challenges. Sandy said the government worked with civil society organisations through the Country Coordinating Mechanism and invited them to make suggestions on how they could be more involved.

Source: all africa