More than 700,000 children under the age of five die around the world annually after drinking contaminated water, Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahamethapat said yesterday.
Narong was speaking to mark World Water Day, which falls on Tuesday. He said dirty water is second to only to pneumonia as a leading cause of death among young children.
In Thailand 253,967 people needed medical treatment after consuming contaminated water over the last two months and two had died. He compared this to the same period in 2013, saying the number of patients seeking treatment for contaminated water has increased by 15 per cent. More than half of this number were children under five and people over 65 years of age.
The ministry has instructed its provincial offices across the country to impose strict controls on the quality of drinking water by adding chlorine and stamping GMP standard, plus getting Food and Drug Administration approval for bottled water, Narong said.He also urged the public to take extra caution against getting diarrhoea during summer because people tend to consume more water and ice due to the heat.
Director-general of the Health Department Dr Pornthep Siriwanarangsan said people needed to drink at least 2 to 2.5 litres of clean water a day to keep healthy, so it was important to ensure water was free of chemicals such as lead and mercury.