Access to quality water has reduced waterborne diseases in Manaus in recent years

The occurrence of acute diarrhea, one of the main waterborne diseases (when contaminated water is the main means of transmission), has been decreasing in recent years in Manaus. Between 2019 and 2021, the drop in cases was 39%, from 99,974 to 60,958 records in the city. The data are from the Health Surveillance Foundation of Amazonas – Dr. Rosemary Costa Pinto (FVS-RCP). One factor is pointed out by experts as essential for improving the city’s health indices: Manaus was the Brazilian capital that most expanded access to quality treated water in the last three years.

Geani Souza, state coordinator of the National Water Quality Surveillance Program for Human Consumption (Vigiagua), a sector linked to the FVS-RCP, emphasizes that greater access to treated water is directly related to improvements in health indices. “When the population has access to quality water, within the parameters recommended in the legislation, the number of cases of water-related diseases can be reduced. Consequently, people have positive impacts on well-being and quality of life,” she said.

Sanitary doctor Homero de Miranda Leão explains that viruses, bacteria, protozoa and other parasites present in poor quality water are the cause of waterborne diseases. In Amazonas, he says, Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, diarrhea and amoebiasis are the ones with the highest incidence. With 40 years of experience as a public health doctor, Homero says that he has been observing the reduction in cases of waterborne diseases as a result of the investments made in improving the quality of water, considered the main food of the population. “The improvement in the quality of our water is indisputable, resulting in thousands of lives saved, especially for children, who have infectious diarrhea as one of the main causes of death”, he pointed out.

Those who had access to treated water for the first time in recent years also recognizes the improvement in health indices in the city. Last year, the Trata Brasil Institute, the main reference in the country in studies on basic sanitation, carried out the research “The benefits of drinking water in vulnerable communities in Manaus”, which heard residents of areas of alleys, stilts and rip-rap located in the Compensa, Redemption and Waterfall. All these regions received a treated water supply structure with the performance of Águas de Manaus.

In the perception of the residents themselves, the impact of waterborne diseases was reduced by up to four times. More than 80% of respondents pointed out that their health and quality of life had changed for the better after the arrival of safe drinking water. Confidence in the quality of water delivered to homes increased from 45% to 81%. The number of clandestine water connections, which represented a risk to the health of residents of these vulnerable regions, dropped to levels close to zero.

Jeane Maria, who lives in the Redenção neighborhood, was one of those impacted by the arrival of regular water supply just over a year ago. “In addition to the ease of having water at home and not having to resort to other means, the supply brought more health. Today, we can use water for drinking and cooking confident that there is no risk of contracting diseases,” she highlighted.

Manaus was the capital that most invested in sanitation in the North and Northeast in recent years. Since 2018, it has been on average R$ 167.48 million per year. The amount is equal to Recife’s investment in the same period (2018 to 2020). The data are from the Sanitation Ranking 2022, promoted by Instituto Trata Brasil and GO Associados.

Operating in the capital of Amazonas for three and a half years, the Águas de Manaus concessionaire is responsible for investments in the capital’s sanitation. The company has been working focused on improving water supply and regularization in areas of vulnerability. More than 150,000 meters of water networks were installed in alleys and stilt houses in the city during the period, benefiting a population of approximately 130,000 residents.

According to the CEO of Águas de Manaus, Thiago Terada, the improvements in the city’s health rates are already a reflection of the work carried out by the company. “We have already surpassed BRL 500 million in investments in sanitation and we are the city that most improved its water supply and sewage treatment rates in the North of the country in this period. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are on the right track. And we are already reaping the fruits, which are already noticeable mainly in vulnerable areas, which did not have access to quality treated water,” he explained.

The company is expected to invest R$ 1 billion in the coming years, to reach the percentage of 45% of sanitary sewage coverage by 2025 (currently, 26% of the city has the service) and that the percentage of water service remains universal, following the pace of growth of the city. The company also maintains a strict control of the quality of the water that reaches the residences. More than 25,000 tests are carried out per month to assess whether the water meets the standards established by the Ministry of Health and the presence of microbiologicals. Last year, more than 300,000 water quality tests were carried out on the water produced in the capital.

This Thursday (07), World Health Day is celebrated. The date, created by the World Health Organization (WHO), draws attention to awareness of the topic. Data from the WHO itself point to a direct relationship between health and basic sanitation, since for every R$1 invested in drinking water treatment and sewage treatment, another R$4 is saved in treating patients.



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