Flood-borne diseases could get ‘out of control’ as deaths rise

At least 16 deaths reported in a day; victims mostly children and elderly

The outbreak of the diseases and fatal viral infections have continued to take a heavy toll on the flood-affected people living in all 23 ravaged districts of Sindh, as 16 more died on Tuesday.

According to information pouring in from Dadu, Khairpur, Larkana, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Shikarpur, Ghotki, Thatta, Badin, Kashmore, Qambar-Shahdadkot and other districts of the province, most of the victims were children and the elderly, as the displaced population has been forced to drink highly contaminated water.

Credible sources revealed to this scribe that high-ups of the Sindh government had strictly directed them not to share with the media the details of those dying after the outbreak of gastro, diarrhoea, malaria and other infections and diseases.

They said that the number of those dying could be doubled if real figures were shared by health officials, and feared that the situation could turn “very chaotic” in the coming weeks and months.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the surge in diseases had the potential for a “second disaster”.

Over 2.7 million people have been treated for waterborne diseases at makeshift or mobile hospitals set up in flood-hit regions since July 1, it said, with 72,000 people treated at these facilities on Monday alone. Independent sources claimed that nearly 700 people only lost their lives due to the outbreak of diseases in different districts of Sindh

Also, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is reportedly preparing a flood relief package to assist Pakistan. The ADB, in a communique, said that the bank would participate in funding for relief work in flood-affected areas of the country. The bank will provide support to the poor people, ailing women and children who have suffered the ravages of flooding, it said.

The ADB will provide help to farmers who suffered losses of crops and extend assistance in cultivation of crops so that they could stand on their feet, according to the statement. The lender will also provide funds for rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure destroyed in floods. It will also extend support for reconstruction of damaged houses, schools, hospitals and other amenity buildings.

Hanif Samoon is a senior journalist based at Thar/Badin and contributes reports from different districts of Sindh to Minute Mirror. He has won a number of awards, including the Agahi Award twice for his stories on health and child rights. He tweets @HanifSamoon1 and can be reached through email at hanifsamoon@gmail.com