Ensuring safe drinking water is the solution Ensuring safe drinking water is the solution
Soon after the founding of the Catholic Hospital Association in 1943 by Sr Dr Mary Glowrey, Servant of God, a 16-page bimonthly named `The Catholic Hospital’ was launched in 1944. The objective was ‘to bring together the Catholic doctors throughout the country and keep them professionally informed’. In 1959, the bimonthly metamorphosed into ‘Medical Service’. Thanks to the interest and initiative of Rev Fr John Vattamattom, SVD, the then Executive Director of CHAI, `Medical Service’ was changed to ‘Health Action’, a monthly, in 1988. The aim was to impart health information to people across the country to help them take care of their health as well as that of others.
The magazine continues to reach out to people with vital health information for three decades. As its new Managing Editor, I stand in reverence before all my predecessors – Rev Fr John Vattamattom, SVD; Rev Msgr James Culas; Rev Dr Sebastian Ousepparampil; and Rev Dr Tomi Thomas, IMS, and thank them for their commendable work done to Health Action, a magazine that can boast of wonderful readers, competent and committed contributors. I hope to perpetuate the legacy left to me by those before me.
The sweltering summer is at its peak. Needless to say, the water woes in the country continue unabated. The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that 2,55,923 villages in 254 districts of 10 states face crippling water crisis. A total of 33 crore people are affected by the drought i.e. quarter of the population of India (The New Indian Express, 20 April 2016).
An inevitable outcome of the water scarcity that has gripped the whole country is the frenzied pace of bore-well drilling in many parts of India from the suburban neighbourhoods of Hyderabad to the parched dry lands of Latur. Rapid depletion of ground water levels, especially in cities like Hyderabad, has led to borewells being dug deeper and deeper which is posing a high fluoride risk.
The deeper the borewells are dug, the higher is the flouride content. “Rocks underground comprise fluoride as a mineral. Once these rocks are drilled, the fluoride mixes into ground water,” says K Dhanunjaya, Deputy Director of Ground Water Board, Telangana State.
India’s water quality is reaching crisis proportions. 1.95 crore habitations are affected by unsafe water. Over 3.6 crore people are exposed to health hazards caused by drinking water containing arsenic, iron, nitrate, fluoride etc. Sixty-six million Indians, reports say, have already been afflicted by high fluoride content. Bacterial contaminants affect around 7.7 million annually with 1.5 million children dying due to diarrhoea. Fluoride-contaminated ground water cause catastrophic health consequences. Fluorosis is a preventable disease. But once it is contracted, it may prove fatal causing dental as well as skeletal fluorosis, kidney diseases, renal failure, epileptic seizures as well as mental retardation. The standard permissible limit of fluoride in water is 1 milligram per one litre water. The acceptable limit is 1.5 mg per litre.
Concerted effort by the Government as well as various Water Authorities in the country needs to be made to address the problem. The crisis of polluted water can be averted through focusing on water treatment solutions such as reverse osmosis as well as improving water storage infrastructure to recharge the water table. Ensuring safe drinking water across the country is the only solution.
The cover story section contains three articles. “Everything you wanted to know about fluorosis,” by Dr Ravi D’Souza, deals with the various aspects of fluorosis – its prevalence, types, causes, diagnosis as well as prevention. Pratima Vasu in her article “Prolonged ingestion and inadequate intake of fluoride” speaks about the incidence of fluorosis in India as well as the fluorosis scenario in Nalgonda district of Telangana. Rapolu Ramakrisha Murthy’s write-up “Breaking the vicious circle of urbanising fluorosis in Telangana” focuses on the urgent need to draw up an integrated action plan to mitigate the fluorosis problem in the State of Telangana.
Rev. Dr. Mathew Abraham C.Ss.R, MD