Pakistan takes a step towards ensuring safe drinking water. Here's why this is an important development

Dirty water causes a host of diseases such as dysentery, polio, typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhoea to name a few.

Myupchar March 03, 2020 18:43:08 IST
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Pakistan takes a step towards ensuring safe drinking water. Here's why this is an important development

Like most developing countries, Pakistan struggles to provide clean drinking water to all of its citizens. A report compiled by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRW) found that a sizable portion of available drinking water is unfit for consumption. 

Dirty water causes a host of diseases such as dysentery, polio, typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhoea to name a few. The consequences are not short term - unsafe water contributes to malnutrition in children under 5 who bear the scars all their lives. Malnutrition can lead to developmental and cognitive issues that impair quality of life. This generational burden of disease is difficult for communities and countries to overcome - healthcare costs balloon, the population can’t perform to its potential and the economic losses are substantial. 

Pakistan takes a step towards ensuring safe drinking water Heres why this is an important development

A particular area of concern for Pakistan is the southern Punjab area - a land that has traditionally been used for agriculture and is impoverished. The PCRW highlighted dire water quality standards in the area, and other reports corroborate that the low-income area suffers from job shortages as well, which feeds the vicious cycle of poor health and development. 

A Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Pakistani government and the University of Huddersfield, in England, could bring a change for the better.

A natural water purifier 

Fronted by the university’s senior research fellow Dr Muhammad Usman Ghouri, the vision involves water filtration through nanoclay particles found in the Koh-e-Suleiman range. A sophisticated purification process will remove sources of contamination from the clay such as lead, arsenic and crystalline silica. The hope is that the process of purifying the clay will be scalable and the clay could then be used to provide the inhabitants of the area a reliable source of clean drinking water. 

It doesn’t just end there. The raw clay was also studied for its usefulness in industry. It was found that the clay can be extracted and purified for large scale industrial purposes. If all goes to plan, the resource could be used as a tool for income generation for the local population and can bring further prosperity if it can be exported as well.

The time to be cautiously hopeful 

The University of Huddersfield said in its press release that it will work with local Pakistani universities and research facilities to execute its vision. While it is encouraging to see the beginning of something promising, the devil lies in execution when it comes to public health interventions. It remains to be seen if the clay can be used in a meaningful way to bring cleaner water to the locals. Even if this is possible, it will require quite a commitment and effort to maintain water lines and keep the level of contamination at a minimum. As for the economic part of the deal, only time will tell if the locals will benefit or end up getting sidelined by vested interests. Robust policy planning and execution can materialize this collaboration into something life-changing. Until then, one will wait and hope for the best. 

For more information, read our article on Infections: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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