Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The real culprit is diarrhoea: Loose motions claim more lives than several other diseases including heart ailments

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: "Loose motions" have now emerged as the major cause
of death among Indians overtaking respiratory infections, cardiovascular
diseases and road traffic injuries.
According to the World Health Organisation's country profiles of
environmental burden of disease, the simple-appearing loose motions kill
three times more people in India than the complicated cardiovascular diseases
do. Loose motions are responsible for the death of 28 people for every 2000
population in the country every year as against nine people killed by
complicated heart diseases.
Incidentally, the increasing number of vehicles on roads have not increased
the number of accidental deaths. But they have contributed to lung cancers,
asthma and other types of cancers. Only five people in India die in road
accidents for 2000 people every year as against 20 people killed due to
respiratory diseases caused by vehicular pollutants.
Loose motions or diarrhoeal diseases are linked to bad sanitation and poor
quality of drinking water. And Andhra Pradesh is no exception to diarrhoeal
deaths. Doctors in the State attribute the spurt in complaints of loose
motionsand respiratory diseases to pollution. They say the number of patients with
bowel problems has increased of late.
Dr SC Samal, senior gastroenterologist of Apollo Health City, points out that
99 per cent of deaths due to diarrhoea are in children. "It’s rarely a
cause of death in adults. Poverty is an indirect index of diarrhoea. The socio
economic status and level of literacy determine the incidence of the problem. Better
economic status and being literate makes one to afford better housing with
sanitation, safe drinking water and maintain hygienic conditions. These can
prevent incidents of diarrhoeal deaths," he says.
The WHO's environmental burden of disease lists as many as 14 "risk
factors" that are responsible for the death of people. While diarrhoea
tops the list with 14 deaths for every 1000 people every year, respiratory infections
occupy the second slot with 10 deaths for the same number of people.
Unintentional injuries that are responsible for the death of 9.5 people for
1000 population are the third major killer.
Incidentally malaria, though linked to environment and sanitation, is the
least cause of death in India. Only 0.3 people per 1000 population die because of
malaria.
Chest specialist Dr Pradyut Waghray says of late the number of asthma and
other respiratory problems has increased in Hyderabad. "Breathing problems
are on the increase. Small particles from dust and emissions get deposited in
the lungs and cause a number of breathing problems. Many of these
pollutants are  carcinogenic in nature and cause cancers," he says.

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