November 13, 2012

2012: Highlight # 39

Several government programs try to provide safe drinking water and healthy diet to the poor. Krishnan and Indu argue that their effectiveness can be enhanced by implementing them together.

Safe Water and Nutritional Improvements

Opportunities for long-term health advancements

Sunderrajan Krishnan and Rajnarayan Indu

Safe water and good nutritious diet are pillars of good health. Susceptibility to various diseases increases when either of these is compromised. Access to safe water and nutritious diet is also linked with social factors such as poverty, hence many of these diseases have a strong aspect of being highly socially determined.

Possibly, a great health burden of the poor can be addressed in a preventive manner by just addressing these two pillars. When we look at diseases such as Fluorosis, Arsenicosis, Diarrhea, Renal stones, they seem to relate to Anemia, Osteoporosis, infant mortality, some types of heart diseases and other concerns on which there is wider action in terms of public health. To be noted is that focusing on either one – water or nutrition - is limiting. In some cases, certain water-based nutrients increase resistance to diseases. Also, vulnerability to these diseases is specific in terms of gender, age and certain life-phases as pregnancy and early childhood.

The discussion brings us to two main action points: access to safe water in nutrition and food programs through targeted water filters and developing preservation of local nutritious food to be consumed locally. These two interventions can go a long way as a first step in addressing these problems. The arguments put forward in this paper strengthen the belief that much can be gained in terms of long term health advancements by safe water and nutritional improvements. They can become good opportunities to break deep-set health inequities.

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