Waterborne Diseases Likely to Erupt in Mediterranean
The escalating critical water problem in Gaza can give rise to a major outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera which would inevitably spread to the surrounding areas, the Mediterranean coasts and straight into Europe. All environmental indicators are pointing to this troubling possibility at a catastrophic magnitude, if the current non functioning sewage system in Gaza is not resolved urgently.
Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and other European countries can be affected by a major outbreak and experts are saying that the epidemic is imminent if the possibility came true. Approximately 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million population lives in refugee camps, some of the most densely populated areas on earth where adequate infrastructure is rare and the conditions for waterborne diseases are rife, thus increasing the chances of an outbreak in Gaza and the surrounding areas.
As it is now, water related diseases among the Gaza population, including the potentially fatal blue baby syndrome, are severe. The environment is choked with untreated sewage, threatening Palestinians health and life. Other equally lethal waterborne diseases include typhoid and hepatitis A.
A recent World Bank Report says : The impact on the environment is dramatic. Wadi Gaza is choked with sewage. Along the Gaza Strip, 16 sewage outfalls go direct to the sea, releasing about as much as 80,000 cubic meters of waste water (more than 50 percent of total waste water) untreated into the sea daily.
“Faecal coliform” bacteria cluster around the outfalls. Fish are infected, and the coastline is contaminated, impacting the quality of life of Gazan citizens and the livelihoods of those who depend on marine sources for their income”
The quality of water in Gaza is deteriorating rapidly, and until another source of water is found, the population in Gaza remains at risk as there is little that can be done as long as the Israel policy of closure continues.
Ninety percent of the water available in Gaza coming from the coastal aquifer is undrinkable, with nitrate and chloride levels between 6 to 7 times above the level set by the World Health Organisation.
One of Gaza’s current waste water treatment facilities were constructed with an operational capacity of 32,000 cubic meters of waste a day. With an annual growth that is one of the world’s highest – an estimated 3.6 percent annually – Gaza’s surging population has overwhelmed the capacity of the waste treatment facilities, and the facilities are receiving an estimate of 65,000 cubic meters of waste daily. Unable to handle more than half of its intake, much of the waste is dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, polluting the biodiversity of at least three different nations.
The treatment of Gaza’s waste water cannot progress as long as Israel restricts basic building materials and adequate levels of fuel and electricity, and, with a rising population over-burdening the capacity of the current facilities.
Now it looks like the closure will imperil Israel as the bacteria infested untreated waste water dumped into the sea off Gaza will inevitably flow to Israeli beaches and further up north and beyond.
The Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), formerly Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO), a first but resolute step in the arduous journey towards global peace, moves towards the single goal of putting an end to war. Its founder, YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, envisages “a serious, active and sustained struggle against war and for peace”. Sharing and supporting this agenda are world-prominent professionals, intellectuals, authors, statesmen – all passionate advocates of international peace. Together, they have signed the Kuala Lumpur Initiative that defines the Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalise War.
The photograph, which was taken by Sanofi Pasteur, shows typhoid bacteria.
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