Public Health and Hygiene

Public Health and Hygiene

Over, during and after Eid al Adha, numerous cases of food poisoning were reported. The problem was so severe that the health department issued an advisory. While the department attributed the cause(s) to raw and uncooked meat, the real problem appears to go beyond this. It , among other things, pertains to health and hygiene standards in Kashmir. It is axiomatic that foods, beverages and related consumable items in Kashmir are, at times, adulterated. Use of chemicals and other artificial stiff to enhance the appeal and even taste of consumable food items has been a practice among many. While these odious practices might not, at times, have immediate, drastic effects on the health of consumers, but certainly there are long term negative effects. At times, even fruits and vegetables have not been pared from malpractice. Cumulatively, this can only have drastic, negative long term consequences and implications of the public health of the community. The issue is so urgent and pressing, given its scale and consequences, that it warrants a drastic and system wide effort at nipping it in the bud. The question is how? The response, by the very nature of the problem, warrants a multi-pronged effort. First, awareness needs to be created amongst the general public about health and hygiene practices. Consumers need to be made aware of a whole host of practices that unscrupulous dealers and vendors. At times, it has been observed, that many consumers are not even aware of expiry dates of consumable items or even medicines. Unethical and unscrupulous dealers pass these on to unwary customers. It is then exigent that people need to be made aware of these. This needs to be followed by vigorous, strict monitoring of markets. Implementation of regulations pertaining to consumable items is key and critical. In combination, both a bottoms down approach towards health and hygiene in society and a bottoms up one can lead to a condition where clean, safe and hygienic practices become the norm than the exception. Public health is a vital issue that can only be ignored at peril. As the number and scale of public health issues that crept up during and after Eid attest, there is a vital need to tighten up, streamline and render efficient the public health practices in Kashmir. Let the issue concentrate our minds and let us focus on efforts that facilitate and improve public health in Kashmir- the sooner, the better.

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