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Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Improving the drinking water supply universally and bridging the existing gaps. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:529-30
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Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Improving the drinking water supply universally and bridging the existing gaps. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 May 23];10:529-30. Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/3/529/196829
Prompt access to safe and easily accessible water regardless of the purpose for which is used is one of the key determinants for improving public health standards, reducing poverty, and ensuring nation's economic growth. Realizing its importance, it has been acknowledged as a universal human right to adequate, uninterrupted, safe, acceptable, readily available, and inexpensive water for personal and household use., In fact, it has been incorporated as one of the eight goals under the Millennium Development Goals and the proposed target was even met in 2010, nevertheless, significant geographic, sociocultural, and economic disparities still exist not only between different nations, but also within the urban and rural settlements of a nation.,,
The current global estimates suggest that in contrast to the estimates of 1990, an additional 15% of the world's population had an improved access to an improved water source. Further, almost 4.2 and 2.4 billion people receive water through a piped connection and through improved water sources respectively. However, in excess of 660 million and 1.8 billion people is still dependent on unimproved water sources or are consuming water contaminated with feces, respectively. In addition, close to 40% of the health care establishments in the low-income and middle-income nations are devoid of any kind of water source, whereas it has been estimated that half of the world's population will be residing in water-deficient areas by 2025. These all are serious estimates and clearly suggest that a wide gap still exist and it has to be bridged at the earliest.,, Moreover, consumption of contaminated water or poor sanitation has been associated with various fecal-oral borne diseases accounting for 0.84 million deaths each year, of which 60% results from diarrhea, and is predominant among the vulnerable preschool-aged children., In fact, shortage of water has contributed to a wide range of adverse consequences, such as not prioritizing the practice of hand washing, storing water for a longer period under substandard conditions (which can itself act as vector breeding site), sickness absenteeism, poor school attendance, a rise in the incidence of hospital-acquired infections, and impaired quality of life, all of which are completely preventable.,,
Further, due to the absence of easy access to water, people have to physically struggle for obtaining it and might fall sick, which not only enhances medical expenditure, but even reduces their productivity and adds burden on the health system., At the same time, the challenges of climate deterioration, water scarcity, population explosion, unplanned urbanization, indiscriminate expansion of industries, and health risk of inappropriate usage of wastewater in agriculture have also emerged and posing serious concerns for the environmentalist and health stakeholders.,,,
Acknowledging the magnitude of the problem and its impact on different dimensions of life and health, it is high time that more attention should be given toward basic practices, such as covering water storage containers, encouraging hand washing, exploring options for alternative sources of water (such as groundwater, wastewater, rainwater, etc.), and increasing the accessibility to water sources.,,, In addition, measures like formulating guidelines on drinking-water, safe use of wastewater, water quality standards, and so on, and releasing them to different national stakeholders; devising strategies to test household water treatment products; ensuring collaboration between different sectors related with water and health; and strengthening water supply and sanitation facilities in health care establishments will also play a defining role in improving drinking water standards and in reducing water associated infections.,,
To conclude, owing to the numerous morbidities, mortalities and adverse consequences associated with poor access to safe, easily available, adequate, and affordable water, it is crucial that all program managers and international agencies prioritize the issue and work in collaboration to improve the existing scenario.
SRS contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.
PSS contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.
JR contributed in revising the draft, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Thiruporur Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Chengalpet Taluk, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram District, Nellikuppam, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None