Unclean water causes diseases, deaths in J&K: Study

‘Water-borne diseases rampant in Kashmir’

ZEHRU NISSA
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 23 2017 12:32AM | Updated Date: Oct 23 2017 12:32AM
Unclean water causes diseases, deaths in J&K: StudyRepresentational Pic

Unclean water and poor sanitation continue to cause diseases and deaths, especially among children, in J&K and other states of India, says the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), a comprehensive worldwide study on prevalence of various diseases, published in September 2017 issue of prestigious journal Lancet.

GBD data shows water-borne diseases are more prevalent in rural areas, where many people still drink untreated water.

As per the data collected under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), in January 2017, acute diarrhoeal diseases (ADD) affected between 5217 and 17,146 individuals in J&K.

Three months later, the number rose to be between 12803 and 33291. This month the number of cases of enteric fever (typhoid) reported from J&K was between 1780 and 6586.

Hospital records show hundreds of cases of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E are reported every month, says the disease surveillance network that collects information about outbreaks in all districts of the state.

In J&K, under-five mortality rate stood at 35 per 1000 births, higher than many states of India, as per the Statistical Report of 2016. Diarrhoea is among the top five causes of under-five mortality in Indian states according to the World Health Organisation. 

J&K state surveillance officer IDSP Dr SM Kadri said that water-borne diseases were “rampant” in Kashmir. “We closely monitor the disease outbreaks and it is true that diarrhoea, enteric fever and viral hepatitis cases are abundant across the state,” he said.

The department has a public health laboratory at Srinagar for testing drinking water which has “very often” confirmed faecal contamination in supplied drinking water.

 “Water randomly sampled by chief medical officers in districts from drinking water sources and tested at our labs shows that the state of rural water supply is very poor,” Dr Kadri said.

Doctors at the GB Pant children hospital said that water-borne infections in children were common in Kashmir.

 “We do receive children with Hepatitis A, gastro-intestinal infections and typhoid. These diseases, resulting from unclean and unsafe water and improper sanitary conditions are not rare and come from all places in Kashmir,” said Prof Muzaffar Jan, senior pediatrician at the hospital.

Senior paediatrician Dr Altaf Hussain, commenting on under-five mortality, said, “Our mortality figures are unacceptable and we have a tendency to hide our dismal performance in guaranteeing a healthy childhood.”

He said that it was “shameful” that children in J&K were still dying because of unclean water and air.

In most parts of J&K, a huge chunk of the population is still directly dependent on tap water which isn’t safe.

 “The quality of this water is so poor that it gives disease, not health,” Dr Hussain said.