GUWAHATI, March 12 � The menace of fluorosis, which is posing a serious threat to the public health of the country, particularly in its rural areas, can be tackled successfully by ensuring supply of safe drinking water and nutritious food to the people, said noted physician Dr D Raja Reddy, while speaking to this correspondent here today.
He also cautioned against the excessive tea drinking habit of the children living in the fluoride-affected areas of the State, saying that the children of these areas need to give up this habit. He said this habit is leading to physical deformities of many of the children of these areas in their early childhood. This, he said, was because the water they use to brew the tea is highly contaminated with fluoride and tea is also rich in fluoride.
Dr Reddy, who has been leading a team of dedicated workers and experts in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh in containing the menace successfully under the banner of the India Natural Resource Economics and Management (INREM) Foundation, said the Jhabua developments were an outcome of the three steps taken by the Foundation.
The Foundation took care to reduce the amount of fluoride in the water by screening all water sources of the affected areas and asked the people to use only the safe water sources. If safe water was not available, people were provided with a de-fluoridation kit and the kit has been maintained by the INREM Foundation over the years.
The Foundation also improved the nutrition of the children by providing them with locally available food such as amla, soya bean laddus and sesame-molasses preparations. Of late, powder prepared from leaves of the Cassio tora (known in Assam as dari diga/ban medeluwa or medeluwa) is also provided to the children. This powder is exceptionally rich in calcium � 4500 mg per 100 gram, said Dr Reddy.
The application of these measures during the past three years has proved to be very successful in checking fluorosis and even those children with deformities caused by fluorosis have now become almost normal, he claimed.
�We failed for nearly 80 years to contain fluorosis. Now it is proved that the disease can be contained. Society and the Government should act in right earnest to eradicate this bane of our public health,� he said.
It needs mention here that the first case of fluoride contamination of groundwater was detected in India in 1937 in the then undivided Madras Presidency. The areas found affected by this contamination of groundwater are now located in Andhra Pradesh. Today it is found that 275 districts in 20 states of the country have their groundwater contaminated with fluoride. In Assam, Karbi Anglong and its adjoining parts of Nagaon district are worst affected by fluoride contamination of their groundwater.