In emergencies, we rush our loved ones to the nearest hospitals with the frantic hope that they will be able to get proper healthcare and be saved. What we don’t realise as the public, is that in any hospital adequate resources mean the difference between a life saved or lost. Resources like enough educated staff, medical equipment and electricity jump to the forefront of our minds – yet it is water that is the most fundamental of them all.
Think about what would happen if you showed up at the hospital, only to find the doors shut? Although this may sound fictional and dystopic, South African hospitals have no choice but to operate in the face of our ongoing water crisis and failing water infrastructure. Despite efforts by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Rand Water and Joburg Water management to assess the impact of the continuous water disruptions to clinical services some of Africa’s largest hospitals have been forced to install whatever reserves of non-potable water possible.
In March 2020, Abeco tanks supplied a 114 Kilolitre tank for the new Covid Ward at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Medical Research centres have also heard the call with Abeco installing two tanks with a combined capacity of 290 Kilolitres for essential cleaning, fire suppression, and water chilling services at the Dr George Makuru Academic Hospital.
Employees and patients at the Helen Joseph Hospital already facing extreme circumstances due to Covid-19 are now experiencing water interruptions due to the power supply failure at the Eikenhof Pumping Station. Leading to management installing three tanks, including a sprinkler tank in case of fire.
While the Gauteng government quickly focused on bringing in water tankers, longer-term solutions that accept the ongoing infrastructure crises at all facilities are needed. To ensure that core infrastructure is adequately addressed in the preparedness planning of our future hospitals, the CEO of Abeco Tanks Mannie Ramos Jnr strongly urges;
“Hospital management must conduct a risk analysis of potential water disruptions to find out the impact of a water outage within the hospital both on existing and future structures to ensure the survival of their ability to provide their life-saving services.”
One of the primary risks to any hospital is that many of the medical air compressors that control air to their most vulnerable patients in ICU are water-cooled making independent backup water sources as essential as generators.
The average water consumption for the various types of healthcare facilities also varies greatly. According to greencape it ranges from 50l per day per patient for Emergency Medical Services to 450l per patient per day in Central hospitals – so it is extremely important when performing the risk assessment that management consider the realistic requirements of each sector within the facilities.
Water supply interruptions occur for a variety of reasons, from the predictable such as routine maintenance, infrastructure breaks and power outages to the completely unforeseen like water main breaks, contamination, natural disasters and increased demand due to pandemics.
According to WHO, insufficient water and the consumption of contaminated water are usually the first and main causes of ill health to affect populations during and after a disaster. Something we experienced first-hand when our crumbling infrastructure was exacerbated in the face of a pandemic where the primary method of protection is washing hands with soap and water.
Although there are many challenges to installing water tanks on a scale large enough to make institutions disaster-resistant - including volume, cost, integration with existing plumbing, systemic security and land space - it is still essential for hospitals to seek water independence through alternatives like tanks, groundwater, rainwater capture, and wastewater recycling.
Facilities need to be prepared to provide water for drinking, sanitation, fire protection, heating and cooling to continue to serve communities that need them most. If hospitals do not confront this reality, they and their patients will face dire consequences.
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Abeco Tanks is the World’s First Bank for the Business of Water, trusted for nearly 40 years to protect against water scarcity. The company’s steel water storage tanks are found in over 35 countries across the globe including Africa, Central America and the Middle East. Abeco is a private, family owned business together with equity stakeholder and funding partners, Investec Private Capital and Global Capital empowerment fund.
With its 269,000 square foot manufacturing facility in South Africa, and hundreds of employees Abeco has erected more water tanks than any other company in Southern Africa, making it the definitive leader in water storage solutions.
Blue chip clients include Anglo American, Sasol, Chevron, FNB, BP, JP Morgan, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline and Investec.
About Mannie Ramos Jnr.
COO Abeco Tanks | Water Continuity Activist | Growth Driver
\Mannie’s passion is to reduce the negative impact of water scarcity on the world. As the COO of the leading water tank manufacturer Abeco Tanks, he is able to fulfill this passion by providing continuity of water for communities, governments and businesses.
After a successful international finance career working in Europe, Middle East and America, Mannie returned to South Africa armed with a strong track-record, an MBA from Henley Business School and invaluable multinational experience.
His mandate was to bring his wealth of experience, strong leadership skills and finance acumen to take Abeco to the next level of its growth.
Abeco Tanks has been in business for almost 40 years building steel water storage tanks and has grown into the definitive leader in over 35 countries in Africa, Central America and the Middle East. The company is backed up by equity stakeholder and funding partner Investec Private Capital.
Mannie spearheaded the innovative brand positioning of Abeco as ‘the world’s first bank for the business of water, which sets the company apart from its competitors. Water tanks known as ‘water banks’ act as a savings account for water so that people and organisations have the water they need to keep operating, even in times of water scarcity.
It is this kind of innovative and ‘out the box’ thinking that makes Mannie an inspiring leader with the ability to achieve great results and transform companies. He thrives on taking calculated risks while having a strong understanding of the trade-off between risk and return. Mannie’s excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills, makes him an influential board level executive.