HYDERABAD: With fluorosis having been identified as a major health issue in 100 districts across 17 states in the country, the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) here has begun a programme to control the disease.

A visit to Venkapalli village in Nalgonda district was organised for technicians from 11 states who had come for training to detect the disease on Tuesday. Venkapalli has a high number of both skeletal and dental fluorosis cases.

The five-day programme was aimed at training technicians to collect blood and urine samples from the residents of fluorosis-hit villages to identify the people afflicted by the disease. Water samples were also scrutinized to detect fluoride content.

It may be recalled that it was in Nalgonda district that the first instance of fluorosis was detected way back in 1937. The ministry of health and family welfare found that the condition exists in nearly 250 districts in 19 states including Orissa, Gujarat, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Harayana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Assam and Delhi.

As part of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF), the ministry of health and family welfare initially identified 100 severely affected districts in 17 states.

“Providing safe drinking water is the solution to prevent the disease,” said Arjun Khandare, deputy director, Food and Drug Toxicology Research Centre (FDTRC) at NIN. The technicians will not only provide medical help but also suggest several nutritional measures to the affected people. “Another important aspect of the whole programme is to identify people who require surgery,” Arjun Khandare said.

In most of the fluoride-affected districts, people suffer from dental fluorosis, a condition in which the teeth get stained. In several cases, children are crippled from their childhood and therefore have to walk with the help of a stick. In surveys that have been undertaken by the NIN, it was found that some people could not even stand and have to lie down on their back all the time.