Solutions, not sympathy: Tackling fluorosis in Telangana's Nalgonda

Fluorosis is a chronic condition that has affected locals in Nalgonda district for decades, but that is changing, thanks to a holistic approach being taken up to mitigate the condition.
Solutions, not sympathy: Tackling fluorosis in Telangana's Nalgonda
Solutions, not sympathy: Tackling fluorosis in Telangana's Nalgonda
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Fluorosis is a chronic condition which affects the bones and in Telangana's Nalgonda district, it has plagued the region since the early 20th century. Fluoride content is naturally present in high quantities in the rocky terrain in the region. As the population in Nalgonda district grew, several locals began relying on borewells and other means of tapping underground water for drinking purposes.

This resulted in a spike in fluorosis cases in the region, leaving many generations of people with disabilities. The focus of the government and activists over the years has largely remained on providing clean potable water to prevent fresh cases from coming in. While this was crucial, a shift in focus was greatly needed to address the issues of those who were already suffering from dental and skeletal fluorosis.

It was with this idea that the Fluorosis Rehabilitation Centre (FRC) was set up in Marriguda, one of the worst affected mandals, to help those suffering with the condition, through physiotherapy and dietary supplements.   

"We have tried to do a paradigm shift into the whole scenario. Our paradigm shifted from not only mitigating or controlling the quality of water but to a holistic, individualistic and humanistic approach towards fluorosis mitigation," says Nalgonda Collector Dr Gaurav Uppal.

For this, social and psychological intervention was done in the form of counselling sessions, and economic rehabilitation was also planned. Coordination among government departments was also increased as programmes were customised to focus on fluorosis mitigation. 

"I feel that we need to really acknowledge the spirit and bring a flame to the spirit so that the disability will become a very small thing and their lives become much bigger," says Sunitha, a nutritionist and District Coordinator of Inrem Foundation, which oversees work at the FRC.

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