According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 billion people lack access to a safe water supply, 1.8 million people die each year i.e., one person dying every 20 seconds. WHO estimated that 88% of the infected people attribute to unsafe water supply and sanitation systems. Waterborne diseases are reserved largely for infections caused by pathogenic micro-organisms that most commonly are transmitted through contaminated water. The infections are transmitted during bathing, washing, drinking, or preparing food thus contaminated.
A famous quotation by Heather Morgan is, “Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it”.
Below is the list of some commonly known waterborne diseases:
- Hepatitis A
Among the deaths caused most of them are children that die every year from preventable waterborne diseases, which is misery. An American physician Francis Collins said, “Human sufferings and misery come from diseases that should have been preventable but were not”.
Every happening has some reasons and specified locations. Before going onto the solutions for waterborne diseases, we must acknowledge the number of deaths occurring in some specific countries every year by diarrheal diseases. The number of deaths caused by these infectious diseases is more than some fatal diseases like HIV, AIDS, Cancer, etc.
MOST AFFECTED COUNTRIES BY WATERBORNE DISEASES
According to the Nation Master report, only 13% of the country has rapid access to safe drinking water. This shows that 34 million people in the country are vulnerable.
Africa is considered the most affected continent by water-borne diseases. Only 11% of the total population of Ethiopia has access to safe water. Almost 60,000 deaths occur every year in Ethiopia because of waterborne diseases, which is enough to worry about.
The horn of Africa is seeing the worst drought, ever occurred. Over one million children are at risk of malnutrition due to limited water and food resources.
According to water.org, one in five people in Haiti lack a sanitary toilet and half of the population of the country lacks access to clean water.
How to prevent waterborne diseases?
As with many environmental issues, there are no silver bullets or magical solutions to water-borne diseases. Scientists have invented many methods to prevent people from water-borne diseases. Some methods include certain types of vaccinations, while others are related to the purification of water. If the vaccination is concerned, it is impossible to vaccinate everybody in the world. Moreover, it is an expensive method that is not in the access of people living in the slums of developing countries.
Certain types of purification methods like chlorination, simple filtration, bio-sand filter, etc. exist. But the countries affected by water-borne diseases cannot provide such facilities to every person either because of technical reasons or sometimes because of the financial crisis.
Experts suggest both short term and long-term measures to prevent people from water-borne diseases. The only thing required is the implementation of these measures at the grassroots levels.
The experts say that in short-term measures there are three crucial steps. These three steps play the most vital role in the prevention of diarrheal infections. These are:
- People should wash their hands as much as possible.
- Dispose of one human waste safely. Use a latrine, even it is a hole in the ground. The waste should not be thrown into the open atmosphere.
- Boil water for at least three minutes. Unboiled water is never drunk. There is a superstition that it causes blisters on the feet.
Following are some of the long-term measures to prevent waterborne diseases.
- Pure water is the first and foremost medicine. So, governments should take steps to provide people pure water.
- According to Dr. Thomas Clausen, a specialist in household water management, “Simple affordable techniques can reduce diarrheal diseases by about 40%”. So, the concerning authorities must make strategies to make it possible.
- Educating people and transmitting information across the board is essential. The people living in villages and farther away places are sometimes difficult to communicate. But if we want to eradicate this curse, then governments will have to make strategies for the spreading awareness to the affected people. Several campaigns should be run across the world to communicate people.
- Placing clear plastic bottles filled with water in the sun for six hours will produce water safe for drinking.
- . Steps should be taken to ensure that live stocks are kept away from food and water resources.
- We cannot put a blind eye on climatic changes. Because several tsunamis and floods caused water pollution. So, the international institutions concerning climatic changes should make long-term strategies to avoid such disruptions.
- MS Smith Nelson says, “About 50% of places with unsafe drinking water once had systems which functioned, but they all fell apart due to lack of maintenance”. Therefore, those systems could have been properly maintained.
Multiple strategies have been suggested to address the public health epidemic of waterborne diarrheal diseases. However, there is no single strategy that will eradicate all water-borne diseases causing deaths. The foremost steps that need to be taken in the developing countries include local, safe, and sustainable access to clean water, as well as education concerning the transmission of infectious pathogens. The only absolute way to avoid diarrheal diseases is to make sure that drinking water is clean and safe, and that the hands used for eating, serving, and in preparation of food are clean.
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