Monday, April 28, 2008

South African Baby Deaths - Still No Action

I referred last week to an article carried in The Herald Online (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) that reported on nearly 80 baby deaths, which were blamed on contaminated tap water in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), a South African opposition party, is calling for an investigation into the handling of this outbreak and the water contamination that preceded it. The DA is suggesting that charges of criminal negligence might be warranted.

The tap water became contaminated as a result of a breakdown in the system last October – a mechanical problem that has yet to be corrected. Residents served by the municipal water system were never notified of the problem.

But the district municipality apparently is still not convinced that the babies died as a result of drinking the polluted tap water. "There is," said municipal manager Zolile Williams, "currently no conclusive evidence that water is the cause." He added that the municipality believed the children (all between 3 days and 1 year old) had not been exposed to contaminated water, since they had access to boiled water.

The municipal authority still has not issued a public health warning to residents.

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