Provision of clean water necessary to cut disease burden

Karachi: Disease burden in increasing manifold in Pakistan mainly due to the consumption of contaminated water, as the provision of clean water is not amongst the priorities of government.

Pakistan Medical Association PMA central leader Dr Qaisar Sajjad said every year more than 3million people suffer from the waterborne diseases in the country every year and some 1.2mn people including 0.25mn children die of these diseases.

These diseases and deaths could be averted to a large extend if the government ensure supply of clean water to the masses. He said the multibillion rupee business of bottled water in Pakistan is another reason why the citizens are not being provided with clean potable water.

He said a powerful mineral water lobby does not want easy access of people to clean potable water supply, as it would be detrimental for their lucrative profits. He said now it is a part of our culture to put a bottle of mineral water at our gatherings, meetings, conferences and even wedding parties.

He said another mafia is befooling people in the name of very costly reverse osmosis plants and hefty government funds are spent to buy these shoddy systems of dubious contractors and suppliers, which only benefits corruption and kickback mafia in government and not the poor masses.

He said the cases of waterborne diseases including typhoid, hepatitis and diarrhoea are rising in Pakistan due to use of unclean water and poor sanitary conditions. He said clean or boiled water is not available to people working in factories, offices and markets. He said even schools and hospitals generally do not have the facility of clean water.

He said the culture of washing hands with soap after visiting toilet is yet to keep firm roots in our society. He said 99percenrt washrooms of public places, markets, schools, offices, mosques, bus stops, railway stations and even hospitals are filthy and without availability of soap and the chances of getting waterborne infections after use of these unsanitary facilities grow.

Dr Qaiser said it is not necessary to buy costly mineral water but the use of cost effective boiled water could also save people from the waterborne diseases. He said every mother should give boiled water to spouses and school going children along with their lunch boxes.

He said this simple practice could save a lot of money that is otherwise spent on treatment of waterborne diseases. He said average cost of typhoid fever treatment for an outpatient is Rs. 4,000 and the cost increases many folds up to Rs. 30,000 if the typhoid case ends up being hospitalized. He said the treatment of other waterborne diseases like hepatitis is still costly. He said hand washing and use of boiled water are two simplest methods to avoid many diseases.

He asked the government to ensure that citizens are provided clean potable water. He said instead of opting costly reverse osmosis methods, the simple and cheap methods of cleaning water and its proper supply to homes should be taken to save wastage of taxpayers’ money. He said the bottled water mafia should be restrained by providing citizens with non-contaminated pipe water. He asked to improve sanitary conditions at residential localities and public places and ensure that soap and water facilities are available in washrooms of hospitals, schools, shopping centers, mosques, bus stations and other public places.

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