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KARACHI, Oct 25: The Sindh health department has told the executive district officer for health to ensure a foolproof joint collection of piped water samples for chlorine tests simultaneously in all towns of the city daily, it emerged on Thursday.

Sources in the health department said the authorities were unhappy with the existing sampling of water as only 10 to 20 per cent of the samples were collected jointly by personnel of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and the district health offices (DHO) and there was no confirmation that health staff members were present during the tests and compilation of results.

The idea behind the amplification of water tests, sought after reports of 10 deaths blamed on Naegleria fowleri, or the brain-eating amoeba, was to know the status of chlorine in water supplied by the KWSB to the city and get its quality improved, a source said.

It was further learnt that the joint teams of the KWSB and the DHO jointly collected 11 samples from Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town, of the 105 samples tested on Oct 20, and found one of them with no chlorine. The quality report issued by the KWSB said that a joint survey was done following a meeting and the tests results were found satisfactory.

The KWSB report mentioned in all 105 test results, including 11 witnessed by the joint teams, on Saturday, of which only four showed negative result for chlorine and the other 101 samples showed chlorine ranging from 0.15 parts per million to 2.5ppm.

According to another source in the health department, the KWSB failed to provide details of the “so-called sampling” to the provincial or district health departments and the media on a daily basis.

The attitude of the district health staff is also seen as not conducive to purposeful sampling, the source said, adding that a high-up had also asked DHO personnel to take the joint survey seriously and make a clear commitment about the sampling of water, tests and preparation of results and their dissemination.

In another communication, the health department informed the KWSB that during a meeting between provincial health secretary Aftab A. Khatri and KWSB chief Misbahuddin Farid held on Oct 19 it was decided that joint water samples would be taken from all the 18 towns of Karachi, but since then the relevant reports received at the health department did not show any conformity to that.

The KWSB and the district health office were told to prepare a daily report on joint water sampling on chlorination from all the towns and submit them to the health department, said the source.

Not satisfied with the development, the provincial health department sent yet another letter to the two parties concerned on Oct 24.

The department took note of the latest Naegleria-water chlorination report forwarded by the KWSB, saying 127 water samples were tested in the laboratory on Oct 23 and nine of them showed no chlorine.

It was also pointed out in the letter that jointly the regulation and quality control department of the DHO and the KWSB took only 32 samples out of which eight — or 25 per cent — were found without chlorine while only one sample out of the 95 taken by KWSB teams on their own was found negative for chlorine.—Staff Reporter