Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fluorosis and Local Champions

For the last couple of months, I and my colleague Shreyas are constantly working in bringing together stakeholders from various institutions to work on the agenda of safe water and nutrition to mitigate the effects of Fluorosis in the state of Karnataka. We have been most active in the districts of Kolar and Chikballapur. In these districts, we have worked to establish relationship with the Officers from the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF). We have been touch with the Health Department of these districts. During this phase, we have come across many persons, whose commitment to work on the issue of Fluorosis is phenomenal. Below are account of meeting such persons.

In Kolar, during one of the field visits, we had found cases of Dental Fluorosis in school children in Malmuthenahalli village in Bangarpet Taluk. We brought this issue to the NPPCF Officer Miss Archana for Kolar. Very soon, she visited the village school and conducted the Dental Fluorosis Survey and gave awareness to children, teachers about the importance of drinking Safe water and having adequate nutrition. She ensured that adequate attention will be given to identify cases of Fluorosis. She is in continuous touch with the Primary Health Centers to track the presence of any cases of Fluorosis. She believes Kolar as district requires more focus on providing safe water. 

Miss Archana conducting the awareness session

Miss Archana Conducting Dental Fluorosis Survey

In Chikballapur, we were able to conduct Fluorosis awareness training with the field officers in Bagepalli of BAIF Institute for Rural Development- Karnataka (BIRD-K). Mr. Pandit Patil, Additional Chief Programme Coordinator of BIRD-K and Mr Nagraju supported us to conduct such training. BIRD-K has worked on the issue of Fluorosis Mitigation through rooftop rainwater harvesting to provide safe drinking water in Tumkur, Chikballapur, Gadag districts, through its Sachetana Program. We look to continue working with them together on Fluorosis Mitigation.

Training at the BIRD-K Office at Bagepalli

We also got in touch with the NPPCF officer for Chikballapur, Mr Vinod who is young and an energetic person. He is concerned with the water scarcity issue in Chikballapur and believes there has to be alternatives to RO Water Plants, which often waste 40-50% as reject water. He has been helpful at various instances and also in connecting us with the District and Taluk Health Officers of the Chikballapur. Most importantly he is open to ideas and want to implement them to mitigate Fluorosis.

Recently, we met the Taluk Health Officer of Bagepalli, Dr. Satyanarayana Reddy. He is a busy person with myriad healthcare commitments, but he has a humble personality. On speaking with him, he told “We are ready to help you guys in whatever way possible”. He intends to do something for the people of Bagepalli, he doesn’t want Fluorosis to cripple people. He believes that solutions must be local and bottom up approach has to be followed to produce results. His team consists of committed officers like Subhaan Saab, who works tirelessly to provide healthcare to even the remotest places.

Dr. Satyanarayanareddy, Taluk Health Officer, Bagepalli

Both Mr. Vinod and Dr. Satyanarayana Reddy believe that Chikballapur as district requires focus both on Safe water and Nutrition. The issue of constant anaemic cases in women has been one of their priorities. 

Another key person in Bagepalli, we met is Dr. Anil Kumar, who runs a clinic in Bagepalli town. The Clinic gives free consultation to around 8500 identified families which are economically weak. On speaking with him, he tells “To mitigate Fluorosis, just providing safe water won’t work, there is a need to work in an integrated mode at Household level.  Nutrition of those affected is equally important, they must get atleast 2000-2400 Kilo Calories per day”. Dr Anil has formed “Village committees” in 75 villages in Bagepallli Taluk to work on Health care and plans to increase the number throughout Bagepalli. 

                                                                       Dr. Anil Kumar at the People's Surgical & Maternity Home

I’m sure there are many more committed people across both Kolar and Chikballapur working on water quality issues. But, having come across such people, gives hope and boost to the larger objective of a healthy childhood and adolescence for people in such water quality affected regions.

Kiran Kumar Sen,
Fluoride Fellow, 
Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network
Biome Environmental Trust

No comments: