Weekday Squib: India to ban public consumption of water

A sign of things to come

CHENNAI: After a ban on smoking in public places, and imposing controls on alcohol, Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss is now eyeing the water bottle. A national policy on consumption of water in public places will be soon be implemented in the country, Dr Ramadoss said.

He said consultation with experts have begun but refused to elaborate. “On weekends, especially in the summer months, in cities like Bangalore and Chennai even women and children are going on smoking and drinking binge. It’s a dangerous trend. We’ll have to intervene and regulate the system. Just like alcohol consumption, water consumption poses a grave threat to India, the nation with 600 million people less than 30 years of age,” he said.

“The Constitution mandates all states to exercise prohibition but except J&K and Gujarat none of the states follow it. Prohibition is a state subject, I would urge all state governments to enforce to total prohibition. And since people who consume alcohol also mix it with water, banning water consumption will further strengthen the prohibition. Furthermore, water consumption is responsible for another public health hazard—illegal urination in public places like sidewalks, compound walls and corridors of government offices. Curbing water consumption in public places will reduce the threat of contagious diseases that arise from illegal urination”

The Union health ministry intends to replicate its successful formula—first employed against cigarette smoking—in the war against public consumption of water. “Watching film and sporting celebrities drink water in public, even small children get influenced. Even children in small towns and villages are demanding water bottles now. So I ask the film industry and BCCI to co-operate with us and refrain from on-screen water consumption. If they do not co-operate we will regulate.”

Dr Ramadoss stated that calling attention to fighting malnutrition, infant mortality, infectious diseases through the improvement of the national health care system is playing into the hands of the tobacco, alcohol and bottled water lobbies. He hinted that these lobbies are very powerful and had so shaped the UN’s millennium development goals (MDGs) so as to distract attention from India’s real health risks: cigarettes, alcohol and water.

Related Link: A sober one at Swaraj

And now, the bird flu threat in NWFP

Peshawar and Mansehra in the spotlight again

People looking out for bird flu cases are sitting up, for it has emerged that the feared human-to-human transmission of the flu virus might have occured. Scott McPherson writes:

In one of the numerous Pakistani H5N1-related bird culls of the past few months, a veterinarian appears to have been exposed to the H5N1 avian flu virus last October. Remember that date. He then, by all appearances, transmitted the virus to one or more of his brothers. They died ten days apart, strongly suggesting a chain human-to-human transmission, precisely because of the lag times. If the two sons were infected by, say, eating a diseased chicken at the same dinner table, or even as leftovers, the infection incubation period — and therefore the deaths — would have occurred much more closely together.

But they didn’t, and the timetable gets really scary here. If the vet brother (A) gets infected in October during the cull, and one brother (B) dies on November 19 and the other brother (C) on November 29, there is reason to strongly suspect the infections were passed down like a daisy-chain. Human to human. Chain transmission. [Scott McPherson’s Web Presence]

The WHO and a US Navy team have been dispatched to probe the two or three clusters of the outbreak in Pakistan. Reports are unclear where exactly the outbreaks have occured, variously locating Abbotabad, Peshawar and Mansehra as the sites. (Related posts from Michael Coston’s Avian Flu Diary).