Yesterday Gul Bahao’s Nargis Latif spoke at a gathering organized by the Gastroenterology Association and the Pakistan Medical Association at the P.M.A house. The gathering consisted mostly of medical students and laymen. Nargis observed that this meeting is being held on the eve of the World Environment day for which Gul Bahao has a special message.
She began by saying that there is lot of hue and cry being raised at the spread of infectious diseases but little effort to find solutions. She however commended the Vice Chancellor of the Dow University of Health sciences who declared at a recent conference that “Diseases which spread through the consumption of contaminated water can be controlled by exposing water to the sun.”
Nargis said that eight years ago she was trying to find out the cure for diarrhea and other waterborne diseases using this very same principle. The challenge before her was what kind of water container to use as conventional containers like the earthenware pot, the cooler, metal utensils etc are opaque so that sunlight cannot pass through them and if their lids are removed contamination in the surroundings would freely enter the vessel. No doubt glass bottles with their corks on were available but with house holds with children, using them would be very inconvenient, she thought.
Gul Bahao’s managing trustee said that the best solution she discovered was the transparent plastic water bottle for purifying water. She said she fills these bottles up with tap water and then puts them in the sunlight for a few hours and drinks the water after cooling it. She called it Paaki Paani, meaning pure water. The advantage of the methodology is its superiority to boiling water. In this case unlike boiling water, Paaki Paani retains its mineral content while the germs are killed. After using this water, Nargis said that she who used to be patient of diarrhea was completely cured.
Later on, as part of Gul Bahao’s campaign her organization took it upon itself to spread the idea. Several people have reported good results after drinking Paaki Paani. These include individuals suffering from diarrhea; People journeying by road; little children who had to be hospitalized for dehydration and people living in “kutchi abadis”.
Someone in the audience asked what is the scientific rationale behind this technique and why no one had thought about it earlier on. To this Nargis replied that it is the ultra violet rays from the sun which are germicidal. I.e. it kills all kinds of bacteria and viruses thus making the water fit for consumption.
To the second question Nargis replied that sunshine is not available in abundance everywhere. This is the reason that people in the west have to produce ultraviolet rays of the sun artificially in their water purifying systems. We in the east and especially in Pakistan are fortunate to have plenty of sunshine of long duration most of the year. Hence Paaki Paani is a very useful method of water purification. The managing trustee of Gul Bahao appealed to the audience to propagate the idea of Paaki Paani as this will get rid of more than half the diseases our people especially our children are suffering from. She said that this is one big way of earning “sawab”.
In another statement on the occasion of environment day Nargis Latif has appealed to the Pakistan media to take up the issue of Paaki Paani. Clean water is one of the biggest health issues in Pakistan and this simple technique provides an excellent solution. Moreover Gul Bahao has for the last thirteen years being working on different aspects of the environment and has come up with systems and products, which provide answers to several problems. Research is the key to our problems and by the grace of God Gul Bahao has spent more than six crore rupees in its research program. Only in 2002 its expenditure was around 1 crore and 20 lacs. Despite the spending the innovations are very simple and cheap. These include “Safai/Kamai bank”, “City Farms”, “Instant Compost”, “Chandi Ghar” and “Fuel Pack” and the list keeps on increasing.