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A Look at Diseases That Thrive in the Absence of Clean Water and Proper Sanitation


News18.com | Updated: August 31, 2020, 11:52 PM IST
To understand what we’re fighting against, it’s important to take a closer look at the diseases and illnesses that are spread due to a lack of clean water and sanitation. It’s a known fact that water remains one of the most prolific disease vectors. The pervasiveness of its use combined with dwindling clean water supplies have made certain diseases a de-facto health feature of certain communities, leaving them debilitated and unproductive.

As we move towards a new paradigm of better health and hygiene, and hopefully, more abundant clean water resources, it’s important to understand how these diseases spread and make their mark.


High on the list of ‘neglected tropical diseases’ is trachoma, which occurs disproportionately more often among people who lack access to clean water and hygienic surroundings. Typically, trachoma is transmitted by flies, or via contact with infected surfaces like skin, hair, clothing or bedding. Trachoma usually affects the eye and its highly contagious nature makes it one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.

Intestinal Worms

India became self sufficient in foodgrains with the Green Revolution. Yet, there are still pockets of the country where malnutrition reigns. One of the leading causes for this disparity is the lack of access of clean water in these areas, which causes intestinal worms. These worms thrive in conditions of poor hygiene and usually find their way inside a human body through faecal-oral contact that results from poor sanitation systems. Once inside, they tend to hamper the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Other Transmissible Diseases

Historically, lack of clean water has been the cause of deadly disease outbreaks. Even today, poor hygiene resulting from the lack of clean water is one of the leading causes of diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, Hepatitis A and polio. Thousands of people die each year from these extremely preventable diseases. Simple improvements in health and hygiene habits and better distribution of clean water resources could thus help reduce a lot of suffering and give communities a new lease on life.

By implementing better health and hygiene practices, together with a respect for our water resources, we will save many from the short term and long term effects of these health risks. These diseases not only affect the patient, but they also fracture families and render communities helpless. Within the context of their compromised present, the future remains an uncertain, discouraging prospect for such people.

To give a platform to our national efforts to promote health and hygiene and conserve clean water sources, News 18 and Harpic India have joined hands to create #MissionPaani. You can also be a part of this transformative movement. Just log onto https://www.news18.com/mission-paani/