Waterborne diseases are a major threat to the world’s population, especially in developing countries. World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF estimates that they are behind 80% of all illnesses and a third of all deaths in developing nations. In India alone, there are more than 3000 people who die every day because of diseases caused by contaminated water. In a different report, the WHO estimates that 88% of all waterborne illnesses are the result of poor hygiene, sanitation, and an unsafe water supply.
Waterborne illnesses have two main causes:
- Pollution e.g. dangerous levels of chemicals, nitrates or heavy metals in the water supply due to industrial pollution or the over-use of agricultural chemicals.
- Dirt & Contamination - Bacteria, viruses and parasitic organisms invisibly contaminate the water and cause disease. Much of this contamination is through water coming into contact with animal and human waste. Just one gram of faeces can contain up to 100 billion microbes.
Waterborne illnesses are many and varied, from diarrhoea and cholera to polio and meningitis. They can be incredibly severe, life changing and even life-threatening to those who are infected but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from waterborne diseases and illnesses.
- Diarrhoea & Gastroenteritis
- Abdominal pain & cramps
- Guinea-worm disease
- Make sure that the water is visibly clean and free from any sand and slit. You can filter the water to get rid of any visible dirt.
- Only drink clean and safe water. Use either clean portable water or water that has been treated with water purifiers. Do not consume untreated water
- Make sure that the stored water is free of germs and clean for later use
- In bathing water, put some Dettol Antiseptic liquid as direct to get rid of harmful bacteria
- Practice exceptional hand hygiene by washing hands meticulously with soap after using the toilet, before and after preparing food
- Make sure that the food is washed and thoroughly cooked to get rid of harmful bacteria and other hazardous germs that would be present
- Immunize yourself to safeguard yourself from vaccine preventable diseases
Myths and Truths
Waterborne illnesses only occur in developing countries?
Waterborne illnesses can strike anywhere, but they might be more dominant in the rural locations, majorly due to poor infrastructure when it comes to providing clean safe water, sanitation, and drainage.
Waterborne illnesses only affect vulnerable communities?
This is a myth, waterborne illness can impact anyone, however dependent on the illness it causes, it can have a much more severe impact in young children, babies, the elderly and those living with chronic conditions.