Water-borne diseases reported from many places

Following the outbreak of water-borne diseases reported from some parts of Kozhikode district recently, health workers have emphasized the need to undertake a proper review of the effectiveness of the Health Department’s action plan to prevent pollution of drinking water sources.

They have also called for tightening measures to ensure only safe drinking water is distributed by lorries in places affected by water scarcity.

There is anxiety about reports which said many rivers from which water is drawn for distribution to hotels, hospitals and students’ hostels are being used for dumping waste, exposing its users to water-borne diseases like jaundice.

Early this month the government’s integrated disease surveillance programme cell in Kozhikode received reports about outbreak of jaundice from Naripetta.

There have been disquieting reports about huge quantities of waste being dumped into Poonoor puzha, Cherupuzha, Iruvazhinjipuzha and Chaliyar, all sources of drinking water. Water from even irrigation schemes in villages are being used as drinking water without proper treatment.

Officials say that there is a provision in the public health Act that required organisers of festivals and other public functions to inform health authorities about their activity to ensure safety of water and food served at the function. However, this was never followed seriously, they say.

Stricter vigil at ice factories is also being demanded since ice made with untreated water and used in soft drinks served at public functions has always been a major source of communicable diseases. A health department official, however, claimed its officials do go for inspection of ice factories

With water becoming scarce because of severe summer, water-suppliers have been struggling to meet the rising demands from hotels, students’ hostels, and even housing colonies.

A health department official claimed that officials had been instructed to test water samples to ensure only safe water was distributed through water-tankers.

The department was examining reports that the water supplied through lorries was drawn from contaminated sources, putting its users at risk of contracting many diseases.

Health activists also suspect that funds allotted to ward-level health and sanitation committees formed across the State to prevent water-borne diseases were being diverted for other purposes.

Health activists say the World Water Day should be the occasion to initiate joint action by health authorities and local people’s groups to protect the rivers, and to ensure only safe drinking water is distributed through water lorries during water-scarce months.

More In: Kozhikode