TAMIL NADU

Summer focus: preventing water-borne diseases

The city corporation has taken several steps to create awareness of waterborne diseases and precautionary measures.

The corporation is taking steps to treat water at the source itself, City Health Officer A. Jagannathan told The Hindu .

“Conventionally, most civic bodies treat water with bleach before supplying. We pump liquid chlorine at the collection tanks itself,” he said.

The team of engineers keeps close tab on breaches such as water pipe leakage and contamination and follows it up quickly, he added.

When the corporation receives a complaint of contamination, the tank is drained out and fresh water pumped in. “The team of engineers has pipeline maps and can locate leaks. They rush to the spot and ensure that the tanks are disinfected and the blocks sealed. They also provide chlorine tablets so that immediate cleaning can be done,” Mr. Jagannathan said.

Even though the water is purified, chlorine, which is a volatile gas, can evaporate while stored in tanks. Therefore, Mr. Jagganathan also recommends boiling it. “The boiled water can be consumed after cooling.”

But he admits that it is not possible to entirely prevent intake of contaminated water, as violations are abundant. “People out of the goodness of heart distribute buttermilk, but the question is whether they use clean water. More often, the buttermilk is prepared with bare hands. Especially during temple festivals, it is difficult to control the pratice. We have been requesting people to take water only from corporation tanks,” he said.

The corporation has deployed 175 auto rickshaws to make announcements.

“These autos tour the city daily. Meanwhile, health inspectors keep tabs on all hospitals in the city. If there are patients admitted with diarrhoea or any such waterborne disease, they conduct a thorough check in the areas surrounding the patients' residence,” Mr. Jagannathan said.

The health department recommends consumption of at least 4-5 litres of water a day per person, and consumption of oral rehydration solution, to avoid any illnesses.

“Although ORS is handed out for free at health centres, one can make it at home. One spoon of salt and four spoons of sugar in a litre of water is ORS. Similarly, water drained from boiled rice can also be consumed,” said A. Subramani, Deputy Director of Health Services, Tiruchi.

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