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Study, 70 per cent of Water Consumed in Nairobi and Kisumu Contaminated with ARVs



Nairobi Governor, Evans Kidero, commissions a water vending machine in Mathare slums.

Nairobi Governor, Evans Kidero, commissions a water vending machine in Mathare slums.

24 pharmaceuticals- the highest concentrations being antibiotics and ARVs, used to treat HIV and malaria are found in rivers, waste and ground water in Nairobi and Kisumu counties.

This is according to a study, Occurrence Patterns of Pharmaceutical Residues in Waste Water, Surface Water and Ground Water of Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya, conducted by the University of Eldoret in collaboration with Ghent University, Belgium.

The concentration of these prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines while minuscule — as they are far below the levels of a therapeutic dose — are worrying scientists like Mr Kenneth K’oreje, one of the authors.

“There is a 70 percent chance that the surface and even treated water may still have traces of the drugs. In fact, some ARVs have resistant products that may be isolated in water long after treatment is done.” He says.

Water flowing from a tap in Nairobi

Water flowing from a tap in Nairobi

These drugs, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, include nevirapine and zidovudine (for HIV treatment) and antibiotics like metronidazole, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.
Kisumu has higher concentrations of the antibiotic sulphadoxine, which is a combined drug with Fansidar that is used to treat malaria.
Poorly managed pharmaceutical disposal mechanisms a possible attribute to this hazardous development.

Elsewhere, in 2013 a study on foodstuff had established that farmers in Kiambu and Murang’a counties were using ARVs to fatten chicken. The farmers reportedly added ARVs to broiler feed to ensure they were ready for sale at four weeks.

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