Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Johnson, has said the Ministry of Health is investigating rumors of unsafe drinking water in Dominica and has assured Dominicans that the island’s drinking water is safe.
It has been going around on social media that two people came to Dominica, caught the flu and upon return to their country had to be flown out the United States where further treatment and one subsequently died. It was further said that research revealed that they had consumed water on the island and the water is contaminated.
But speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Johnson described the rumors as unfortunate and baseless.
“The Ministry of Health obviously wishes to allay any doubt that general public might have at this present at the moment in relation to death due to drinking water in Dominica,” he said. “It is unfortunate that these baseless and misinformation of the water contamination has caused unnecessary alarm in the general public.”
He said the Environmental Health Department in the Ministry of Health has a legal responsibility to monitor the quality of drinking and recreational water for both visitors and residents alike and he explained how this is done.
“So we do such things as annual sanitary assessment of all the catchments and intakes of water in Dominica,” he stated. “We do weekly field test for chlorine residue in selected systems and we also do what is referred to as a fortnightly bacteriological analysis of samples for each water system.”
He said specimen and samples are taken and they are referred to other public health labs including the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency for further analysis.
“And to date there is no concern, like the water company indicated, the Ministry of Health has absolutely no concerns as it relates to the quality of our drinking water at this time,” he said, referring to a release from water company DOWASCO, concerning the safety of drinking water.
Dr. Johnson stated that Dominica, like the rest of the region, has a responsibility to report anything that is a public health event of international concern to the World Health Organization (WHO) under the International Health Regulation 2005 and the source of the rumor is being investigated.
“And in fact I could say this to you, one of the things that we have done is to actively investigate the source of that rumor,” he revealed. “In fact to the extent where we have contacted our counterparts in that island under the International Health Regulation to actually confirm what that individual died because if this individual died of any disease that supposed to cause any international concern, that country has to report it to the WHO,” he noted.
He stated that anyone who died anywhere in the word of any disease of international concern, the matter is reported.
“So if any individual came to Dominica, contacted any suspected disease and they went back to their country and they died, that country has to investigate it and report it to WHO and Dominica would get a report of that and we will know,” Dr. Johnson stated. “The MoH is very concerned that that rumor is going on around and has begun activecollaborationn with WHO to find out exactly what has gone on.”