Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Public Health is a Challenge in Kashmir

Water borne diseases kill 200 kids every year

New Kashmir Challenge

Mehboob Jeelani (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: After 20 years of violence, Kashmir has identified its new enemy – the water borne diseases that are alarmingly proving to be fatal, particularly among the children.

Talking to Rising Kashmir, Head of Government Medical College’s (GMC) Preventive Medicine department, Dr Muneer Masoodi said: “Water borne diseases are the only fatal diseases in the Valley. We often get cases of jaundice and gastroenteritis due to consumption of unsafe drinking water.”

Masoodi said waterborne diseases could only be controlled by taking precautionary measures and supplying safe drinking water.

“We can only treat these diseases. The best way to be on the safer side is to consume water after boiling it for 15 to 20 minutes,” he said. “Hepatitis-A is one of the dangerous diseases transmitted through contaminated drinking water. The symptoms are only acute (no chronic stage to the virus) and include fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, itching, jaundice and depression. “These diseases cannot be controlled until people take precautionary measures and Public Health Engineering department provides safe drinking water.”

A doctor of GMC’s SPM department, wishing not to be named, said that in Kashmir province two to four people die due to waterborne diseases a week. This takes the annual death toll due to water borne diseases to over 200.

“Children are the worst hit as their immune system finds it difficult to overcome this disease. Contaminated drinking water used in the preparation of food also becomes source of food-borne disease through consumption of pathogenic microorganisms,” he said. “The consumption of non-treated drinking water initially causes abdominal discomfort, fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, bloating, and fever.”

According to World Health Organization, diarrhea disease accounts for an estimated 4.1 per cent of the total DAILY global burden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people every year.

It was estimated that 88 per cent of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene and is mostly intense among children in developing countries.

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