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EditorialVaccination in flood-hit areas

Vaccination in flood-hit areas

The apocalyptic floods have completely destroyed many areas of Pakistan. The flash floods and long spells of rain have razed everything to the ground in many areas of South Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and left more than a thousand people dead. Videos surfacing on social media show the plight of people living in these areas. In Swat, the cameras caught many hotel buildings being demolished and the debris flowing away with the water. In South Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan people are living on any dry area of land they may find. Food has become scarce and there is little to no arrangement for cooking the dry ingredients sent in relief packages by the government and many NGOs. Basic amenities are nowhere to be found. Not only have cities and villages been destroyed, but also agricultural land. Along with all of these issues, the problem of water-borne diseases has become rampant in water-logged areas.

Reports of the spread of diseases such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, dengue, malaria, and dysentery are on the rise. However, there is no planning as to how the illnesses will be controlled. People who are already suffering by living in dire conditions cannot afford to fall sick as there is little to no treatment available. The spread of disease is not restricted only to the less developed flooded areas but also to cities like Karachi where stagnant water has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and diarrhea-causing bacteria. There are several cases of diarrhea and dysentery being reported in both children and adults but the actual numbers may be higher as many go undiagnosed. In Punjab, the polio virus was also detected in water and with the floods, the virus could spread to other areas where many have not been vaccinated against it. The already frail health structure of the country may not be able to sustain these many cases of water and vector-borne diseases.

The responsibility for clearing out water and preventing the spread of disease lies on the government’s shoulders. Along with that, medical health camps must be established in all areas that provide free consultation and medication to the flood affected. If such measures are not taken, the death toll following the floods will rise to insurmountable numbers. Diarrhea is one of the main causes of death in infants and it is a highly treatable disease. If proper medication is not provided to children then Pakistan could suffer a great loss of young life. Moreover, vector-borne diseases can be prevented through fumigation and such efforts can only be made by the government as it is a large-scale project. All areas that have stagnant water should be fumigated until the water is cleared out.

In such cases of natural disasters, individuals must act together to save their fellow countrymen. Although it may not be possible for one person to save a hundred others, the ocean is made of several million droplets. Those who have the means to donate must now focus on the provision of medicines, sanitary products for women, ready-to-eat dry food items, clothes, and waterproof tents. Joining hands with the government and several NGOs that are working towards providing relief to the flood affected people is of utmost importance now.

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