If an epidemic broke out it in a poor area of Kingston it would quickly affect the better off areas as the poor people go to work in those areas and work as cleaners and domestics. An outbreak would quickly affect the tourist industry as news would spread and it would have an appalling effect on the country. But that is the danger we are now facing.
There is real danger that the untreated sewage flowing onto Benbow Street in Jones Town could lead to an outbreak in cholera that would lead to deaths of Jamaicans. Make no mistake an outbreak of such a disease would not be confined to Jones Town but, since people travel and interact, could cause the death of tourist visitors. A travel advisory from the US state department would hit one of our major foreign exchange earners – the Tourist industry. If you think this is alarmist, please note that the World Health Organization (WHO) says cholera can kill within hours and also reports that every year there are about 1.3 to 4 million cases and 21,000 to 143,000 death resulting from the disease.
The effluent is coming from a number of residences on Benbow Street, Jones Town, in the vicinity of a popular Seventh Day Adventist Church which draws heavy people traffic, and flowing into the gutters and down into the gully all the way to Kingston harbor. Many homes are being affected directly. Yesterday, Saturday March 4th, there was a woman filming the flow with her smart phone with the intention of sending the clip to Television Jamaica, hoping that action will be taken. The people of Jones Town are very concerned that there could be an outbreak of serious disease.
This is clearly a major public health hazard, not just for the people of Jones Town, but for everyone in Jamaica.
The concerned residents report that there is a nursing mother in one of the homes from which the sewage is flowing.
To give a simple example: the resident of 22 Benbow Street wakes up each morning with raw sewage in her compound and has to step over it in order to get to the street. There is a powerful and steady stream of sewage coming from somewhere under the entrance to her home. The flow is accompanied by a stench which especially affects her little boy.
The residents are understandably upset and frustrated by the neglect that has led to them being forced to live with this deplorable situation. A WHO report states that “Cholera transmission is closely linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Typical at-risk areas include peri-urban slums, where basic infrastructure is not available.” It is the neglect of areas like Jones Town that could lead to the major outbreak of diseases like cholera that could affect us all.
It is important that the Ministry of Health, the National Water Commission (NWC) and any other political representatives get together to keep us all safe. The people of Jones Town and we the people of Jamaica deserve better.
This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
YouTube video of the sewage: