GUWAHATI, Nov 8 – The experts taking part in a review meeting of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF) of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, held here recently, highly praised the progress made by the State in controlling Fluorosis. According to official sources here, the experts taking part in the review meeting also visited the Bonda-Birkuchi area in the city where a 24,000-litre capacity piped water scheme has been implemented by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) of the State, since 2008, to cover the entire population of the Bonda-Birkuchi area, who were exposed to Fluorosis because of excessive fluoride content in the area’s groundwater.
The review meeting was held to assess the present state of the initiatives launched by the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha, besides Assam, with support from the NPPCF, to control Fluorosis.
The representatives of the State apprised the NPPCF experts headed by its deputy director general Dr Pradip Saxena, of the progress made by the State in implementing the NPPCF-supported schemes in the districts of Nagaon, Kamrup and Karbi Anglong.
State’s representatives said that with the help of the Fluorosis Mitigation Centre (FMC) the State could attain significant achievement in reverting crippling skeletal Fluorosis among 70 per cent of the 40 children in Tapatjuri area of Hojai district. This could be achieved with proper application of medicine and supply of nutritious food to the victims. This is regarded to be a significant achievement. Because, skeletal Fluorosis is regarded to be an irreversible disease, sources said.
The State has implemented 35 piped water schemes in the affected districts, groundwater of which have been found to be contaminated by the presence of excessive fluoride. Six major piped water schemes also are under implementation. Three of these are being installed in Karbi Anglong, while two are being installed in Kamrup and one is being installed in Nagaon district.
Proposal to set up three Fluorosis Mitigation Service Centres (FMSCs) is also there. The PHED and the Health Department are working in tandem with the FMSC, an NGO, in the Tapatjuri area of Hojai district. Each of Karbi Anglong, Nagaon and Nalbari will get one FMSC if the proposal is approved by the NPPCF, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that the State Health Department is also playing a major role in fighting Fluorosis and it is supplying micro-nutrients to the vulnerable population in the identified Fluorosis-affected districts.
Dr AK Susheela, former Professor of the All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi and a renowned Fluorosis expert, who has now been heading the Fluoride Foundation of India as its director, told the participants of a workshop, held as part of the review meeting, that nutrition plays a major role in preventing Fluorosis. Diet controlling and diet editing are very important in matters of keeping the nutritional level high. Health Officials, physicians and PHED officials and engineers took part in the workshop.
According to official figures, a total population of 4.19 lakh belonging to 930 habitations under 44 blocks of 11 districts of the State is found to be facing the risk of Fluorosis. Excessive fluoride content in groundwater is found in the districts of Barpeta, Dhubri, Goalpara, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karimganj, Karbi Anglong, Nagaon, Nalbari and Udalguri. However, among these districts, Nagaon is found to be the worst affected by this phenomenon.
Of the people at risk, 2.98 lakh are now receiving the benefits of the piped water schemes. The rest of the people at risk would be covered piped water by 2022, sources said.
*Original article online at http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=nov0917/at060