India reports fewer outbreaks of water-borne diseases

Umesh Isalkar, TNN Jan 18, 2012, 01.41PM IST

The fight against water-borne disease in India is beginning to yield results.

PUNE: The fight against water-borne diseases seems to have started yielding results. As against 91 deaths in 2010, the state recorded 14 deaths in 2011- a marked drop of 84% in mortality – due to gastroenteritis (gastro), diarrhoea, infective hepatitis, typhoid and cholera, all diseases caused by consumption of contaminated water.

Micro-planning, regular review meetings of planned work and awareness about using bleaching powder to purify water at village level helped reduce outbreaks, say state health officials. As against 261 outbreaks of water-borne diseases registered in 2010, the number of outbreaks fell to 73 in 2011.

“The perceptible drop in deaths due to water-borne diseases can be attributed to multi-pronged strategy initiated at all level — from village to district — of planning and administration,” V D Khanande, joint director of state health services told TOI on Friday.

The highest number of outbreaks (28) in 2011 were those of diarrhoea, followed by gastroenteritis (25), infective hepatitis (12), typhoid (4) and cholera (6), states the health department’s report. As many as 4,052 people suffered an attack of these diseases during the outbreaks.

Among the 14 deaths due to water-borne diseases, six died due to gastro that occurred in Kolhapur (1), Sangli (2), Parbhani (1), Nanded (1), and Washim (1). One diarrhoea death occurred in Nandurbar. Infective hepatitis claimed one life each in Satara, Sangli and Nanded. Typhoid claimed two lives in Nanded. Two cholera deaths occurred in Pune and Thane, the report states.

In 2010, the highest number of outbreaks in Maharashtra was of gastro (177) in which 71 people died. Diarrhoea claimed 19 lives.

“Usually, the water scarcity starts after March. This is the period when we have to strengthen our monitoring work. Since April 2011, we started conducting additional district health officials’ meeting to review their work once every month. We ensured that bleaching power is made available in villages and talukas and sensitized villagers about its use. Micro-planning, regular review meetings of planned work and awareness about using bleaching powder to purify water at village level helped to reduce outbreaks,” Khanande said.

Although access to drinking water has improved, the World Bank estimates that 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe drinking water. Hygiene practices also continue to be a problem in India. Latrine usage is extremely poor in rural areas; only 14% of the rural population has access to a latrine. The practicing of washing hands is also very low, this increases the spread of disease. In order to decrease the amount of diseases spread through drinking-water, usage of latrine and hygiene must be improved simultaneously.

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