Article courtesy of The Times of India | July 8, 2015 | The Times of India | Shared as educational material
KOZHIKODE: Increasing number of diarrhoea cases in the district points to the poor quality of drinking water and rampant pollution of water bodies, according to health experts.
According to the health department, the district had reported 25,320 diarrhoea cases from January 1 to June 30, 2015. The district had reported one death and 44,147 diarrhoea cases in 2014 while it was 35,261 cases and one death in 2013 .
Health experts say that the main reason for the growing number of diarrhoea cases was the consumption of polluted water and unhygienic food. The pollution of water bodies have already been confirmed by the numerous studies conducted by the Kozhikode-based Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM).
A study by CWRDM in 2013 on the bacterial contamination of ground water had found that 55.5% of water samples in the district were polluted due to unscientific construction of latrines, 11.1% by an animal source and the remaining 33.3% were polluted due to mixed contamination due to both. The studies had also found the existence of C.coli and E.coli bacteria in the drinking water.
The World Health Organization also says that C.coli (Campylobacter) bacteria found in the intestines of many domestic animals and poultry, especially chicken, is said to be one of the major reason of food borne diarrhoeal illness. On the other hand, E.coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria found in human and animal intestinal tracts reaches the body of a person through the drinking of contaminated water resulting in severe diarrhoea.
Dr P S Harikumar, head of the department of Water Quality Division, CWRDM said that around 80% of drinking water sources in the district are contaminated. “The situation is the same across the state. The studies conducted by CWRDM have found E.coli in the water samples taken from the various parts of the district for the study. Normally, the ideal distance between the latrine and well should be 7.58 metres to 15 metres. Unfortunately, our study revealed that the distance between toilet and well is lesser than 7.58 metres in many locations. Absence of sewerage treatment plants and unscientific construction of latrine pits make the E.coli bacteria to creep into the soil and reach to the nearby wells and water resources,” he said.
Though the authorities have proposed many schemes to set up the treatment plant for drinking water, the local bodies have failed to execute the scheme so far.
Dr P K Mohanan, former district medical officer said that the growing number of diarrhoea cases is an indication of the high levels of contamination of drinking water. “The existence of E.coli bacteria was found in many wells during our inspections. The diarrhoea is spread through consumption of polluted drinking water and half cooked meat or food items,” he said.