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Access to Drinking Water and Public Health

How are water and public health related?

1. The basic physiological requirement for drinking water has been estimated at 2 litres per person per day.

2. This minimum requirement also depends upon lifestyle, climate condition and habits.

3. For urban settings, the water availability of 150-200 litres per person is considered adequate and for rural India, it is 40 litres per person per day.

4. Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, typhoid and polio.

5. Absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks.

6. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report, WASH in Health Care Facilities is a comprehensive global assessment of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities.

7. It has found that 1 in 8 health care facilities has no water service and 1 in 5 has no sanitation service-impacting close to 900 million people.

8. When water comes from improved and more accessible sources, people spend less time and effort in physically collecting it, meaning they can be productive in other ways.

Where are the historical evidences?

1. The Indus Valley Civilization had many water supply and sanitation related provisions such as public and private baths in urban areas, disposal of sewage through underground drains and a sophisticated water management system with numerous reservoirs.

2. Roman Empire had formalized the role of the state in improving health.

3. The idea of public health is said to have born in Rome with the development of bath (for hygiene), sewers (drainage) and aqueducts (to supply water to cities).

4. The scientific linkage of pure drinking water and good health was established around 1840 with experiments and observations of two British physicians and epidemiologists John Snow and William Budd (study on cholera and typhoid).

What are the issues associated with contaminated water?

1. Inadequate management of urban, industrial, and agricultural wastewater means the drinking water of many people is dangerously contaminated or chemically polluted.

2. It can result in large outbreaks of waterborne diseases, which can spread rapidly.

3. Consequently, it results in high disease burden and panic in the community.

Which are the steps taken to provide access to drinking water in rural India?

1. Rural drinking water supply is a state subject in India.

2. The Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation (MoDWS) under the centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking water Programme (NRDWP) provides financial and technical assistance to State Government.

3. NRDWP aims at providing every person in rural India with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking etc.

4. The Government of India has prepared a strategic Plan for the rural drinking water sector for the period 2011-2022.

5. The plan aims to extend the piped water supply to more households in rural areas.