The findings of a research by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) into packaged sachet drinking water and which has gained a lot of traction this week gives cause for concern. Concern because water is life we say, and researches are quite scientific.
Indeed researches are fantastic. They lead to new discoveries, improvements in the quality of life, which at the end of the day ultimately benefits society.
They bring the world, individuals and an entire generation to their “aha!” moments. Our world has been where it is based on the research fi ndings of generations gone ahead of us.
Our Eureka moments have been sufficiently based on research works from the past.
If it had not been the research of Alexander Fleming, the Scottish Bacteriologist whose research findings led to the discovery of penicillin, where would our medical world be in the area of treating bacteria?
One only has to let one’s mind go wild and the list of research findings that have made our world a better place would have no end. Think for a moment of mobile phones, radios, television and electricity power for example.
They did not just pop up from nowhere. Research work and fi ndings of others brought them into being.
Had it not been for the dedication of Scientists and the medical world, COVID-19 would have by now wiped away many relatives and loved ones across the world. But research and discoveries have led to the appropriate vaccines and today, we are in a better space of COVID-19.
So, I never and will never take findings of a research for granted in as much as it leads to development.
With it, a way forward is established in many situations and the dos and don’ts get established.
That is why countries, institutions and others commit to research generally.
And so the research by the GSS resonates with me. It gives the sachet water industry an opportunity to better their products, since they have a ready market and will always have a ready customer to serve.
Some customers refer to packaged sachet water as “pure” water. But for what reason, it is very difficult to tell.
They are advertised with all kinds of superlatives and many, in both rural and urban centres, patronise it.
However, even before the research findings came public, I have always had a problem with sachet drinking water for a different reason.
My problem is how sellers and some wholesalers of the commodity display packs of it continuously in scorching sun day after day for people to buy and consume.
A drive in and around town and, I guess, in other parts of the country, gives a sad and health-challenging picture of the way water sachets are displayed at shop fronts.
One has been told over and over again to beware of water in plastic container and left for a period of time in the sun. It is explained that a kind of reaction takes place and which makes such water not fit to be consumed. But we continually see sellers doing exactly that.
The research findings coming from the GSS that sachet water consumed by many are contaminated with faecal matter is a big threat to public health.
Alarmingly, the 2021 Population and Housing Census reportedly put 37 per cent of the 8.3 million households in the country as consumers of sachet water, which is apparently their main source of drinking water.
At a time when one thought societies were getting better and more advanced with affordable treated and hygienically packaged water, we are being told, through research, that that water is after all not wholesome.
The hard fact is that this type of packaged water is consumed not only by adults, but mothers are actually giving it to their very young toddlers too.
Even in hospitals, family members carry such water to their loved ones on admission and they are allowed by hospital staff as good.
The fact is, sachet water is used universally. Many times when Ghana Water Company shuts down, many households who do not ordinarily drink sachet water will use the product for cooking and sometimes for rinsing dishes.
Many questions need to be asked on the findings but the biggest worry is whether or not the production of sachet drinking water is regulated and actually checked off before they go out to the market.
If water production and packaging has not been a regular focus of the regulatory authorities, this research is a huge indictment on them.
One would only ask that they run to the rescue of consumers, for water is life and contaminated water is a huge setback to the quality of life.
Credit: Vicky Wlreko