It has been repeated umpteen times only to fall on deaf ears that water is a basic necessity for the sustenance of life. The human body can potentially survive weeks without food but without water, it may live to only about three days. Around here, however, water is assumed to be contaminated so it is a careful consideration one must make as to whether to refrain from or drink polluted water, creating a dire situation. Centuries-old diseases still exist in enormous numbers: cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Effective action by the health department is left to be desired. The neglect shown towards illnesses borne from infected water supply demands that somebody be held culpable. Access to clean water is a luxury and this alone should launch provincial water and sanitation departments into an efficacious approach to provide clean water to all citizens of their respective provinces.
Provincial health departments need to simultaneously become more aggressive in combating such preventable diseases, starting by forming a stronger lobby for public access to potable water. Health economics should be a major convincing factor, acknowledging that annually $5.7 billion, comprising four per cent of the GDP, are frivolously spent on dealing with the effects of water pollution such as bacterial infections. Furthermore, this same tainted water is used to grow crops and house the fish that humans consume, eventually inviting genetic mutations and affecting future generations. The irony is that even when one wants to eat a healthful diet consisting of mostly vegetables to stave off inflammation and diseases like cancer, they may already be at a predisposition due to polluted water used to grow the plant crops.
Another irony is that despite being a country with direct sea access and melting glaciers, Pakistan’s water reservoirs are emptying. We require desalination plants and water filtration plants that can effectively annihilate the bacteria that thrive in hot and humid weather in much of the country almost year round. The death of 53,000 children every year due to only contaminated water being available in two-thirds of Pakistani households is criminal.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2018.