Sunday, November 23, 2014

WIO Update: Jaundice takes epidemic proportion in Sambalpur!

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) Update on Jaundice Epidemic in Sambalpur – 23rd November 2014

Jaundice is taking epidemic proportion in Sambalpur!

About 30 people are said to have died of jaundice in the city during the last six months; hundreds admitted in different hospitals at the moment…

Saving Mahanadi from pollution, correcting drinking water supply systems, initiating proper garbage and sewerage management, regulating unhygienic food and augmenting health facilities are urgently needed…

Sambalpur Municipality, Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OPCB), Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) and Health Department have to share equal responsibility for this…

Jaundice, in the form of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E, is spreading in epidemic proportion in the Sambalpur city and peripheral areas.  While the health department officials are blaming contaminated water for this, the PHED is not taking the responsibility.  Reports from field sources point that hundreds of jaundice affected people are admitted in various hospitals and nursing homes at the moment.  Media reports are coming in claiming that at least 30 people have died due to jaundice in six months. 

Contaminated food and water are the main reasons for such forms of jaundice.  Industrial pollution may be another cause. 

Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted by the faecal-oral route that is when an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. It can be food borne or waterborne.  Outbreaks of this disease, that directly affects the liver, is usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water.  The Hepatitis E too is transmitted mainly through contaminated drinking water. It is usually a self-limiting infection and resolves within 4–6 weeks. Occasionally, a fulminant form of hepatitis develops (acute liver failure), which can lead to death. 

Drinking contaminated water and bathing in such water can lead to jaundice caused by these viruses.  Sambalpur has very old pipelines and many vulnerable points where the drain water – containing faecal sludge – can enter into the pipelines, making it the perfect grooming place for jaundice epidemic.

In June last year, our campaign’s citizen survey had revealed the disastrous state of our water bodies, Mahanadi and the sewerage management system.  It is time to remind what we had found out last year, as published in our factsheet:

A factsheet that was prepared based on the citizen’s survey of Mahanadi pollution revealed that Mahanadi is a heavily polluted stretch from Hirakud to Sambalpur.  Untreated polluted water gets drained into Mahanadi through at least 14 points between these two cities, that’s about a 15 kilometer stretch.  These drains bring in about 40 Million Litre of Sewage into the river besides about 100 Metric Tonne of solid waste that find way to Mahanadi in different ways.  While about 40 per cent of the Sambalpur city defecates in open, at least 10 thousand people defecate on the bank of the river itself.  This is a daily health disaster as about 30 thousand people take bath in the 50 odd ghats from Hirakud to Sambalpur. 

Despite of our regular warning the Sambalpur Municipality has miserably failed in managing the wastes and in creating sufficient public facilities to stop open defecation.  Similarly, the Pollution Control Board has also failed in in its job of controlling such contamination and pollution.  This can be termed criminal negligence.

There are also forms of jaundice that take place due to heavy industrial pollution from aluminium smelters and coal fired power plants which discharge their wastes directly into Mahanadi and other water bodies. There is an urgent need of taking up a detailed study of all the jaundice cases and find out the real reasons so that the menace can be controlled.  We have been urging upon the state government in this regard but it believes in the OPCB which is known for its lenience towards industrial houses of the state.  The pollution control board’s claims that industries are not discharging wasters into Mahanadi is completely false and ridden with vested interest.  What we need is independent investigations.

At this moment, all the above mentioned departments should step up their actions to control the jaundice from taking an epidemic proportion.  Strict regulations for street food vendors, cleaning of all contaminated water sources, arresting leakages in water supply pipelines and initiation of replacement of the old ones, proper treatment of the water being supplied, augmentation of the medical facilities in the city, increase in the public toilet facilities, monitoring of existing toilets including individual toilets, etc. are some of the steps the administration must initiate without further delay.

For further information, please contact:

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)

Mobile: +91-9437050103

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.