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My Dinner with Archy

August 15, 2007 -- Today The Gulf News reported that nurses in the United Arab Emirates had "lodged a complaint against two major water companies" after finding contaminants in bottled water. Nasouh Nazzal's "Nurses open water bottle to find cockroach" reports that following the nurses' water safety complaints, government inspectors investigated the companies, found many violations, and imposed fines. We thank The Gulf News for reporting on the UAE nurses' admirable public health advocacy, which shows what nurses can do when they speak out.

The article does not name the nurses or give any further information about them, nor does it name the companies involved. Naming the nurses would have indicated that this kind of activism by health professionals merits specific public recognition. Naming the companies would have given the public important consumer information; in the online comments to the piece, readers criticized the article for failing to do so.

However, the piece does lay out the nurses' specific concerns about the bottled water. One nurse found a cockroach. Another found the company's labeling paper inside the bottles. Another bottle contained unspecified "contamination." After the nurses' complaints were filed, inspectors reportedly "seized" the two cartons of water, which the nurses had bought for personal use. The inspectors tested the water and found it unfit for human consumption. The inspectors then reportedly visited the water companies, and found "a number of violations." The companies were later fined.

We applaud Nasouh Nazzal and the Gulf News for seeing the public health effects of the dangers identified by the nurses. We also salute the UAE nurses for standing up to the water companies, which presumably have more power than they do. This is not just about a few bottles of water. Clean water is vital to good health. What the nurses did presumably affects the operations of these companies, and sends a message to this key industry, the government, and the public that citizens expect clean, safe water from those who promise to provide it.

The nurses' actions also at least suggest to the public a broader view of nursing than most people now get, a view that encompasses forceful advocacy to promote community health. The piece could have brought this out more, perhaps through a quote noting that this is what nurses do (or should do). But the fact that the piece identified the water activists as nurses, and that it ran in the health section, at least implies that the nurses are public health advocates.

See the article "Nurses open water bottle to find cockroach" by Nasouh Nazzal from the August 15, 2007 edition of The Gulf News. You may add comments on the bottom of the article's page.



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