South Africa: North West Water Crisis – Pathogenic E. Coli Found in Water

Preliminary reports suggest that Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the bacteria responsible for the unnecessary death of three babies and treatment of over 500 other people after drinking contaminated water in Bloemhof’s Boitumelong Township.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that the bacteria, which normally lives in the intestines of humans and animals, was the main source of the recent tap water contamination in the Bloemhof Municipality.

It is of great concern that the North West Department of Health has yet to release the final report. Questions must be asked as to why this has not happened. Indeed, the urgent action that is needed to correct this situation cannot be pursued until such stage as the problem has been properly identified.
Should the release of this report not happen urgently, I will have no choice but to submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, must recognise the escalating gravity of this latest health crisis.

South Africa needs a modern, proactive national infectious disease surveillance system.
In the DA-run Western Cape, a model has been implemented from which the Minister of Health must draw, if he is to prevent future outbreaks in the country.
I will request a meeting with Minister Motsoaledi to discuss this innovation and recommend its implementation nationally.

Government departments cannot sit back and do nothing while people get sick and children die of preventable illnesses. Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old worldwide, it is gross negligence to not act swiftly.
The DA will continue to put as much pressure as possible on both the national and provincial department to ensure that there is urgent action.

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Photo credit: Werner Beukes/Sapa
A child looks at a bucket of dirty water in Bloemhof (file photo).