A doctor's family has been sick time and again over the past six months. In the same time period, other residents have been reportedly admitted to hospitals and even the ICU in a housing society of about 100 families. The worrying part is that all these people who are falling sick at Ashirvad Apartments Sector 12 are inflicted with water-borne diseases such as stomach infections, Diarrhoea and Typhoid. The reason suspected is poor quality water.
Dr Kaushik Sarkar is the Founding Director of the Institute for Malaria & Climate Solutions, a global centre of excellence incubated by an international non-profit “Malaria No More”. His family is a victim of suspected water contamination as he explains in his own words, “It all began during the last winter when my son started having high- fever accompanied by irregular bowel symptoms. He tested positive for Typhoid. It took 9 days for him to recover and he had to be treated with multiple antibiotics. I thought that it was an isolated episode and was not apprehensive about any recurrence. Two months later the problem resurfaced. This time I got admitted with Acute Gastroenteritis and spent a couple of days in the hospital. Then it was the turn of my wife to suffer the same ordeal and somehow we managed this at home. I had to cut short a very important official trip with foreign delegates from my headquarters because of this."
He continues, "Last month my daughter fell sick and this was probably the most horrific ordeal. She started having a fever and a urine infection. The Pediatric Nephrologist found impacted stool creating pressure internally behind this infection. The urine related symptoms subsided after treating her stool impaction and I had to leave my family for another high-level review visit- this time with the officials of the Ministry of Health and the WHO for a Joint Monitoring Mission. A day later, her fever returned and she had to be hospitalised with severe diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration. She was diagnosed with enteric (typhoid) fever as well. Finally, she recovered after getting treated for about two weeks again with multiple antibiotics. Then was the turn of my son again, who started having fever and bowel symptoms and now is symptomless with antibiotics. During this entire period in the past few months, we never had a day when all the members were free from any bowel symptoms."
Dr Sarkar further empathised, “As an Epidemiologist, I think there’s some contamination of water at source since we always purified water at home for drinking, but it is extremely difficult to prevent infection from contaminated water in kitchen and washrooms. That requires investigation of the source of such contamination. In cities, it sometimes happens due to faecal contamination of water supplies, or contamination of water storage tanks of housing societies. I have requested the society management to follow up on that and they are extremely supportive on that front. But, it also requires larger surveillance of waterborne illnesses, which I believe are on the rise. Infections such as those by Salmonella, E. coli, and many other pathogens are so dangerous and the problem lies with the speed of their spread in the community and the chances of recurrence if the root causes are not addressed.
He further says, "This is also one of the gravest issues related to climate change and water shortages. The people and the Governments have to work together to address these issues urgently.”
People of sector 12, Ashirvad Apartments have been in trouble these days as they are facing issues related to health caused by suspected contamination of water. They are alleging that society has been suffering for more than six months due to such problems. Ailments such as Diarrhoea, Typhoid, and stomach infection have become common here and people are compelled to buy sealed water bottles for drinking.
Prachi Jain, a resident of Ashirvad Apartment is also a victim. Her son is in ICU suffering from Diarrhoea. She says, “Doctors are saying that it happened due to water. My son is recovering now. Before this, I was sick in February. After recovering in March, we thought of using RO but then again I got sick. Since then, we have been using sealed water bottles. Recently for a week, we started again RO water and my son got sick. So this is directly related to the supply from DJB and they should take it seriously.”
As informed by the residents and the management of the society, on the complaint and follow-ups earlier, DJB officials had visited the society and said that the water was ok. President of the society, Harjeet Singh says, “We are a facing a great crisis of water contamination. Earlier we informed the DJB people and they visited our society to test the water sample and declared that the water is ok and with no contamination. I think water is contaminated and the sickness of people is proof. I am going to the DJB office with the letter and a bottle of water as a sample so that they could check again. We want a solution and DJB must think over it. This is a matter of lives of people.”
On the subject, one of the DJB officials said that a team would be sent to the society again for a check and the needful would be done.