Waterborne Diseases: Policy Issues and Individual Prevention
Waterborne infections are those caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that are present in water. They can also be caused by schistosomiasis and some other food-borne diseases. Waterborne diseases are one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for an estimated 3.4 million deaths each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 88% of these deaths are in developing countries and that they are mostly preventable.
Infections transmitted through contaminated water include cholera, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, dysentery (caused by various bacteria such as Shigella, Salmonella, and E. coli), and parasitic infections such as schistosomiasis, taeniasis, Fasciolopsiasis, Ascariasis, Enterobiasis, and leptospirosis. Poliovirus infection is no longer common since the introduction of vaccines, but it still occurs in some areas where sanitation is poor and water supplies are contaminated with sewage.
Waterborne diseases can also be caused by viruses such as the Norwalk virus, which causes gastroenteritis, and the adenovirus, which can cause respiratory infections. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is another viral disease that has been linked to water contamination.
2. Policy issues related to waterborne diseases
One of the main policy issues related to waterborne diseases is providing clean water and adequate sanitation facilities for all people. This is a major challenge in many developing countries where infrastructure is not well developed and water supplies are often contaminated with sewage. Improving water quality is also a key issue in developed countries where rivers and lakes may be polluted with industrial waste or agricultural runoff.
Another policy issue related to waterborne diseases is ensuring that food supplies are safe from contamination. This includes ensuring that food handlers follow good hygiene practices and that food is cooked properly before consumption.
3. The role of individual citizens in preventing waterborne diseases
Individuals can play a role in preventing waterborne diseases by ensuring that they have access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities. They can also help to improve water quality by not polluting rivers or lakes with industrial waste or agricultural runoff.
Individuals can also help to prevent food-borne illnesses by following good hygiene practices when handling food and cooking it properly before consumption. It is also important to ensure that food comes from reputable sources and is not past its expiration date.
Waterborne diseases are a major global problem and they require the input of both governments and individual citizens to prevent them. Governments need to provide clean water and adequate sanitation facilities for all people and ensure that food supplies are safe from contamination. Individuals can help by ensuring that they have access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities and by following good hygiene practices when handling food