If the price of bottled water from local refilling stations were any indicator, Bohol health authorities would want to know if these is not due to short cuts in the water purification process for operators to sell cheap.
Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot asked this at the recent Kapihan sa PIA, which, among other public health concerns, tackled water safety on the wake of reported food poisoning incidents happening in Bohol.
â€œWhen the water purification and refilling business started, processed water was sold as high as P50 per 5 gallon bottle, now some sell it at as cheap as P10 per five gallon bottle,â€ Cabagnot, who is also the Provincial Health Officer noted.
Although, he clarified that he has nothing against offering cheap purified bottled water, the health officer would rather want to be assured that no step is bypassed in the purification process so the public can be assured of clean drinking water.
Anytime, a team from the PHO would be doing random water quality inspections for processed water from refilling stations to make sure there are no shortcuts made to bloat profits and jeopardize health, Dr. Cabagnot revealed.
Some water refilling stations boast of 12 stage purification process although most use the 7 stage process: 10 micron filter, ion exchange, carbon filtration, ultraviolet disinfection, reverse osmosis, ozonation and storage and circulation.
A water refiller who asked not to be named also admitted that a huge bulk of water is getting discarded in the process, so it should be costly and processed water should be priced reasonably without sacrificing quality.
FOOD POISONING, TOO
At the radio forum on the air, the health officer echoed the health concern of food poisoning which has put Bohol in the national limelight weeks ago.
He shared that the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit investigating the popped rice poisoning in Villa Teresita Ubay has found out that it was bacterial, staphilococus aureus.
Staphylococcus can cause food poisoning when a food handler contaminates food and then the food is not properly processed. Staphylococcus bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature to produce a toxin that causes illness, although it can be killed by proper cooking and pasteurization, health sources said.
Other sources of food contamination include the equipment and surfaces on which food is prepared.
In Villa Teresita Elementary School, about 85 pupils were either brought to hospitals for treatment or were cared in their homes following the ingestion of ampaw from an ambulant vendor. Nobody died in the incident.
The food poisoning, followed by another poisoning in Panglao, triggered alarm among health authorities, Cabagnot said.
He said the governor immediately ordered him to make the necessary steps so none of such incident again recur.
As an after incident initiative, the PHO ordered all Sanitary Inspectors all over Bohol to create a master list of ambulant and fixed food vendors. He also asked these health inspectors to come up with a list of all water sources where drinking water is sourced out.
Finally, he also asked the same personnel assigned in the towns to make a list of all water refilling stations operating in their areas of responsibility.
By law, the PHO performs mandatory water quality testing and inspections to water refilling and processing stations, and the alarmed top doctor in Bohol said they would also make random inspections to water refilling stations.
We need to know how these water refilling and processing stations were able to cut on the costs, and if these are through short cutting the process, then we can pin them on the event that food poisoning or dirty water is circulated to their consumers, Dr. Cabagnot said.Â (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)