Waterborne diseases

Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental requirement for good health. But majority of Nepalis still lack access to clean and safe drinking water. Now monsoon is in full swing. With the monsoon, the threat of waterborne diseases increases significantly. Diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid and cholera among others are common waterborne diseases. People get easily sick during rainy season after drinking contaminated water.

Waterborne illnesses are diseases caused by pathogenic micro-organisms transmitted through water. The disease can be spread by drinking water or eating food exposed to infected water. Several bacterial, protozoal and viral waterborne diseases pose a serious health problem in Nepal.

Lack of clean water increases the risk of diarrhoeal diseases, cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other waterborne diseases. One of the most common waterborne diseases is diarrhoea which is the leading cause of child death in our country. Acute diarrhoea is caused by Vibrio cholerae with painless watery diarrhoea and effortless vomiting, the severity of which could lead to death.

Water shortage is also a major factor causing waterborne diseases.  There is a huge scarcity of water in many parts of the country, which compels people to use untreated and unsafe water for drinking purpose. In city areas including Kathmandu, lack of solid waste management and leakage of sewers are responsible for the contamination of groundwater. Arsenic in drinking water is also a leading problem in the Tarai region. In the rural areas, sanitation practice is a major concern. Enteric fever is also a common disease-causing frequent hospital visit.

In Nepal, only limited percentage of the population have access to basic sanitation. At the same time, water treatment facilities throughout urban and rural areas are limited. As a result, Nepal faces a high number of waterborne illnesses.

Awareness is an important tool to reduce the burden of waterborne diseases. Simple hand hygiene can reduce diarrhoea and typhoid cases. Hand washing is very important when it comes to keeping diseases at bay.

We can reduce the chances of getting the waterborne disease by taking some precautionary measures. For example, drinking boiled or filtered water is one of the best ways to avoid diseases. Some water treatment methods also can be used. Drinking water should also be stored in clean containers.