The Ministry of Health has ordered localities to supervise water quality at water supply stations to prevent outbreaks of acute diarrhoea, particularly in poor areas.

The use of unsafe water sources was one of the main reasons for digestion-related diseases, said deputy head of the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, Tran Dac Phu, at a recent workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City to seek measures to prevent acute diarrhoea.

Local health departments should provide citizens with chemicals like Cloramin B to help sterilise water, he said.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien led an inspection team to check the water supply in Le Minh Xuan commune in HCM City's Binh Chanh district where an outbreak broke out.

The inspection team found the problem has been caused by a lack of safe water and sanitation.

As of June, inspectors from the Medical Health Management Department have tested the quality of 1,722 water supply facilities and found 24 percent of them were substandard.

Phu also urged local health departments to build clean toilets for poor households as part of measures to help prevent diarrhoea.

Do Manh Cuong, a representative from the ministry's Environment Department, said the number of standard toilets built in rural areas has increased slowly by 1 percent in the first half of this year. An estimated of 1.3 million households in rural areas still lacked toilets.

The country has an average of 500,000 diarrhoea cases each year.

Since the beginning of this year, 301,570 incidences of diarrhoea were reported with three fatalities, including one in the central province of Thanh Hoa and two more in HCM City.-VNA