With the national capital fast becoming an endemic area for fluorosis, a disease that cannot be treated, the Delhi government has decided to enter into a “strategic and technical partnership” with a agency that is specialised on the disease to stem the spread.
The partnership of Fluorosis Foundation with the Health Department of Delhi government would ensure that government hospitals have the requisite infrastructure for diagnosis of the disease and technicians of these hospitals are trained at the facilities of the Foundation.
Delhi Health Minister Yoganand Shastri said South West, West and North West districts of Delhi have become endemic areas for the disease. “As it cannot be treated, we want to ensure it is contained. The programme will start in April,” he said.
The fact file of Fluorosis prepared by the Foundation said it is a dreadful, painful and crippling disease, which affects men and women, young and old.
Prevention is the only solution, provided the disease is detected and diagnosed at very early stages.
Shastri said in the first stage, the technicians and the staff at the diagnostic centres of the hospitals would be trained. “Doctors would also be trained thereafter, as the disease is often wrongly diagnosed due to unawareness of the disease among the medical fraternity,” he added.
Officials in the Health Department said the decision for a tie-up was taken as the government realised that Delhi does not have any infrastructure in any of the hospitals for diagnosing Fluorosis correctly.
“In such a situation, patients are prescribed drugs with no beneficial effect and the disease gets aggravated. As there is no drug or treatment, prevention is the only solution for which correct diagnosis is very important and a prerequisite,” said a health department official.
The Health Department has constituted a Steering Committee to advise and give technical support to the newly launched ‘Fluorosis Mitigation Programme’.
Fluorosis is caused by exposure and consumption of poisonous chemical fluoride over a period of time. The main sources are through food, drinking water, drugs, emission from industries.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
• Dental Fluorosis: Affects children and there is discolouration of the teeth.
• Skeletal Fluorosis: Patients complain of pain, stiffness in major joints like neck, shoulder, back, hip and knee joints.
• Non-Skeletal Fluorosis: This results in stomach problems like pain, gas, loss of appetite, nausea, etc. Muscle weakness, tendency to urinate more frequently, anaemia, blockage of blood vessels raised blood pressure and cholesterol also occur.