Hyderabad: Unsafe water and poor sanitation adversely affects the immune system of children, making them vulnerable to diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two leading causes of death of five million children in India.
Pneumonia occurs in 13 per cent of children, while diarrhoea crops up in 2 per cent. These figures have remained a constant for a decade in India, health experts said.
Dr Suresh S. Kumar, a paediatrician, said: “Unsafe water supply makes them vulnerable to disease. While contaminated water is known to cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhoea, an immune-compromised child becomes prone to air-borne diseases like pneumonia too. Often in these children, we find they are also vulnerable to a lot of viruses and bacterial infections because of their poor immunity.”
Water samples collected by the Institute of Preventive Medicine, from Hyderabad and districts, show there are at least 15 sites where bacteriological contamination is at a constant high.
At-risk locations include Narayanguda, S.R. Nagar, Saidabad, Malakpet, Lalapet, Bolakpur, Santoshnagar, the Chanchalguda slums and L.B. Nagar. An official from the Water Board said: “Due to large-scale construction going on in the city, water pipelines are getting damaged and contaminants are being found.”
However, Dr Mahesh Reddy, a senior paediatrician, explained: “Drinking water lines and sewage lines run parallel to each other. If there is any leakage in the sewage line or the water pipeline, there is contamination throughout the channel.” Approximately 67 per cent of Indian homes do not treat drinking water in semi-urban and rural areas.