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 first-ever 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 motions and 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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