Jordan: Two ministers step down over water scandal

Published July 29th, 2007 - 02:12 GMT

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday accepted the resignation of Minister of Water and Irrigation Engineer Mohammad Thafer Al Alem and Minister of Health Saad Kharabsheh as of July 29, 2007. The two stepped down on the background of water contamination and subsequent health complications for more than 1,000 people in the north of the kingdom.

The water system in Manshiyat Bani Hassan, 70 km northeast of Amman, was contaminated and more than 1,000 cases of diaherra and fever have been reported.


Over the past two weeks, the residents of the village, near Mafraq have been taken to hospital for treatment against the highly resistant parasite, according to medical sources in Amman.  The disease is not fatal but causes unpleasant diarrhoea lasting up to two weeks.


The parasite, Cryptosporidium, which was first discovered in the late 1970s, infects humans and a wide range of domestic and wild animals, according to a report produced jointly by the Royal Scientific Society, the Jordan University for Science and Technology, and the Amman-based World Health Organization (WHO) Centre for Environmental Health Activities.


The report, released on 24 July, did not say how the parasite got into the village's water supply system. The government vowed to start replacing the ageing water network within two weeks. In the meantime, residents are relying on trucks to bring water from nearby villages.


On the same day Kharabsheh told reporters that the waterborne parasite was very resistant to traditional water treatment methods such as chlorine. He advised residents to boil water before using it. 

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