Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Each Drop Counts of Pure Water


Pure water is crucial for health. We do not realise the value of this precious resource and often indulge in criminal waste of this scarce resource. Access to safe and pure drinking water is a privilege, which is not available to all. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean and safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion people lack sanitation facilities. Every year, 5 million people die of waterborne diseases. Waterborne diseases remain one of the most significant threats to human health worldwide.

Waterborne diseases

Waterborne diseases include cholera, typhoid, bacillary dysentery, polio, meningitis, hepatitis A and E. These diseases are caused by water that has been contaminated by human, animal, or chemical wastes. Intake of dirty water stands as culprit, most of the times. Treating water before use can arrest the spread of waterborne diseases.

Dr. Arvind, DM Gastroenterology explains, “ In summer, waterborne diseases are on rise. There is water scarcity, higher concentration of contaminants and hot weather helps bacteria grow faster.” As for drinking water, he says, “Boiled water is the safest. Putting a chlorine tablet in 15 to 20 litres of water is a simple and affordable way of purifying water.”

Diarrohea is an important symptom of many water borne diseases. No wonder, of the deaths occurring owing to contaminated water supply, it tops the chart. We have lost more children to diarrohea in the past ten years than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II.

If a young child has more than five watery stools in a day, chronic diarrohea is the disease. Oral rehydration fluids keep dehydration at bay and simple hygiene measures like washing hands with soap and water after using toilet and before preparing food can significantly reduce the number of deaths from diarrohea.

Despite grim statistics, India has made gains in the prevention and management of waterborne diseases, which is obvious in case of polio. Even the popularity and easy availability of ORS has made an impact on deaths due to diarrohea.

For typhoid, polio and hepatitis A vaccine offers protection.

Prevention steps

  • For water borne diseases personal hygiene and sanitation is the best screen available.
  • Eat food items that are cooked well and still hot.
  • Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that are not washed well in good water.
  • Avoid food items from street vendors. Maintaining hygiene on road is difficult.
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