health lies a city's well-being
a doctor friend of mine in Hyderabad commented that too many
people were approaching him with respiratory disorders. This
can be partly explained by the winter cold. But in a substantial
measure our illnesses are man-made. Here are some facts for
you. A study by a reputed public health journal pointed out
that 30-50 % of twin cities population is suffering from allergy,
asthma and other respiratory disorders. Other studies also
pointed out that almost 25% of school children in the city
are suffering from asthma and other respiratory disorders
such as bronchitis. Most of these cases are related to air
pollution. It is improper urban planning, or rather lack of
it, which results in appalling traffic congestions. And proliferation
of industries near residential areas is also contributing
to high levels of air pollution.
from high incidence of asthma, haphazard urban growth is a
source of other health disorders such as malaria and gastro-enteritis.
have open nalas that are not spared from encroachment and
Musi river, right in the middle of the city, into which untreated
wastewater and other solid waste are let out. To top it all,
our wastewater treatment capacities are grossly inadequate.
India Development Report 2002 states that Hyderabad generates
373 million liters/ day (mld) of wastewater, whereas the treatment
capacity available is a mere 115 mld. It is this untreated
wastewater in open nalas and Musi river that has become a
veritable breeding ground for mosquitoes and the consequences
are there for everyone to see. Every other person you know
suffered from malarial fever and Hyderabad had the honour
of recording three cases of the dreaded Dengue fever. The
response from the government on the reports of Dengue fever
was appalling. And government of AP does not even have proper
equipment to diagnose the disease. Well, that's "Pharmabad"
or the would be " Bio-tech" capital of India for
health scenario in Hyderabad is further worsened by governmental
apathy. For instance, a survey carried out by Centre for Media
Studies (CMS) reports that the staff of government hospitals
in Hyderabad is more corrupt than their counterparts in Delhi,
Chennai, Mumbai and Calcutta. Large sections of population
are forced to visit private practitioners at higher expense.
And a single episode of hospitalization drives over 25 % of
people below poverty line!
what can be done to improve our health in Hyderabad and other
cities and towns? Broadly, three approaches are necessary.
First, we need to recognize that medical treatment is not
the same as health care. Community health can be safeguarded
only by proper preventive care and public health policies
and investment. Second, we need to give up our obsession with
excessive specialization, and focus on accessible and affordable
family care. There are many community-based urban health care
models to emulate. For instance, the Voluntary Health Services
(VHS) project in Chennai. And finally, good city governance
does not mean grandiose projects and image management. We
need effective larval control, anti-pollution measures, sewage
treatment and protected water supply. All these common sense
steps do not cost much. But any change requires knowledge,
discipline, teamwork and foresight. Can we summon these qualities
and enhance the quality of our own lives?