4 billion annual cases of diarrhoea in India attributed to poor water sanitation

New Delhi, Dec 13, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio / prurgent) Diseases are rising at an alarming rate among the human population especially in a country like India. Doctors’ clinics are hot spots right now what with the increasing number of people falling ill these days. The World Bank estimates that out of the growing spate of diseases, 21% of communicable diseases are water related.

According to a 2007 World Health Organization report, more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. It comes as no surprise that 88% of the 4 billion annual cases of diarrheal disease are attributed to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

Water borne diseases like diarrhoea have been the cause for an estimated 700,000 deaths in India alone in 1999. This disease mostly hits children under the age of five. Other serious water-borne diseases are typhoid, jaundice and cholera that are rampant in India today.

Drinking water from municipal filtration plants gets contaminated due to sewage mix-up occurring in the piping. This is a global problem and not restricted to developing countries. For instance, a detailed study conducted by NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Institute) across major cities in India, confirms alarmingly, the presence of bacteria, fecal coli-forms (which can cause diseases such as diarrhea) in the drinking water.

Most of these diseases occur due to:

1. Poor water purification process
2. Inadequate sanitation facilities
3. Pollution

World Health Organisation (WHO) says that the provision of safe water alone will reduce diarrhoeal and enteric disease by up to 50%, even in the absence of improved sanitation or other hygiene measures. WHO further asserts that there is now conclusive evidence that simple, low cost interventions which are capable of eliminating harmful viruses from household stored water can reduce the risks of diarrhoeal disease for people of all ages in both the developed and the developing world.

There are ways to avoid contracting a water-borne disease. Simple steps can be taken to achieve this:

1. Boiling: One of the most basic ways is to boil water for drinking purposes. Boiling has been used as a purification process since time immemorial as it effectively kills germs and makes water safe to drink.

2. In Home Purification: Purification is another method to ensure that the bacteria, viruses, Parasites and are cleared form the water. Filtered water removes impurities from the water promising safe drinking water.

3. Chlorine Tablets: Disinfection is unquestionably the most important step in drinking water treatment. Chlorine tablets are very effective disinfectants for water. Chlorine has the ability to successfully kill bacteria and is found to be very cost effective and convenient thus ensuring that the water is disinfected and is safe to drink

People can easily safeguard themselves from water-borne diseases by taking adequate precautions and ensuring that the water they drink is safe.

Issued in public interest by Hindustan Unilever

- prurgent