Preventive measures needed

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As if the endemic disease diarrhea which kills thousands of people mostly children across the country every year was not enough that another fatal water-borne disease like cholera too has started affecting the citizens.

Till now around two hundred cases have been reported in various parts of the city, but the disease can strengthen its foothold in the city if immediate steps were not taken. The case study of patients at hospitals shows that adults and children are equally vulnerable to this latest form of cholera which is also reported from other parts of the country as well. According to information proved by the province’s largest child health facility namely the National Institute of Child Health, on the average a dozen children are brought to this facility suffering from cholera symptoms. On the other hand, diarrhea cases and gastroenteritis cases are also on the rise in the city, which are attributed to drinking of contaminated water by the citizens.

As per available reports, acute watery diarrhea results in killing of an estimated 53 thousands children every year and with the onslaught of cholera, the situation can become further worse. Healthcare experts attribute this to the environmental and water pollution which may become aggravating with the rise in mercury in coming months i.e., June , July and August. The decades long dilapidated and poor sanitation network and broken water supply line which mix up with seweage lines contaminate the water and it is due to use of this unpotable water that water borne diseases are on the rise.  Meanwhile, the lab authorities in Sindh have also confirmed over 140 cases of cholera in the city since  the start of the current year. In January this year 13 cases were reported, followed by 14 in February, 50 in March and 56 in April while the more cases are emerging this month. In the current month, over fifty cases have been confirmed by Lab authorities, who said that the disease is on the rise.

Mostly toddlers are found infected with Vibrio cholera, the bacterium which causes cholera in the human beings. As per WHO information, cholera is an acute infection which is caused by taking of contaminated food items or water containing Vibrio cholera, for which timely treatment is a must, otherwise it can prove fatal as it causes severe dehydration. The main city hospitals like Aga Khan University Hospital, Liaquat National Hospital, Indus Hospital, Civil Hospital Karachi, Ziauddin Hospitals in North Nazimabad and Keamari, and Kharadar General Hospital have been reporting the cases on regular basis.

However, doctors say that we need not to panic as the ratio of cholera cases as compared to acute watery diarrhoea cases is very minimal. Diarrhoea cases run in thousands while cholera cases still falling within two hundred so far. One would advise the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, and water and sanitation departments in other cities of Sindh to pay heed to this various serious issue which is being caused by contaminated water. It is the duty of the government to ensure the supply of safe drinking water to citizens so that the danger of water borne disease can be thwarted. As far as the citizens are concerned, they should also take precautionary steps like they should take only boiled water and well cook food and should avoid eating from the roadside stall and patharas. Generally speaking in our country, waterborne diseases are endemic reasons being contaminated water supply to household in major urban centres including the modern city Islamabad.

That’s why disease like drug resistant typhoid, giardiasis, intestinal worms, diarrhea, cryptosporidium infections, and gastroenteritis.  As per report of International Union on Conservation of Nature (IUCN) child mortality is the highest in Pakistan as comparted to toehr Asian countries  and experts attribute this infant deaths to  water-related diarrhea which cause on the average  60%  of infants death in the country.

Meanwhile,skin infection cases are omcreasomg which too are attributed to contaminated air, water and food stuff.

Generally speaking, the prevailing unhygienic conditions are to be blame. Right now the government is required to address these chronic issues on priority basis and focus on preventive health strategies which are a must to relieve burden on the healthcare facilities across the country.

Then there are typhoid cases which often show  signs and symptoms of multidrug resistant (MDR) typhoid.  The mosquito menace is also there and can result in spike of mosquito-related diseases. Dust pollution is also a factor due to which  respiratory diseases is also on the rise and as per hospitals sources, upto thirty five per cent of cases that visit the outpatient department (OPD) daily pertain to waterborne diseases, particularly gastroenteritis, acute diarrhoea and skin infections.

The rise in the number of such patients clearly show that the government hasn’t yet taken notice of the city’s fragile sewerage system, which is on the verge of collapse.

The irony is that majorit of masses  could barely make ends meet and are troubled more in crisis-like situations.

The good news is that the government can support them by planning and enforcing preventive strategies in the health sector, including creating awareness about basic hygiene. Most roads and streets in the city have been badly damaged. This is not only obstructing smooth flow of traffic, but also contributing to the polluted environment. Health experts say that preventive measures and strategies in the health care arena not only reduces burden on tertiary care hospitals, improves quality of care and public health, but also contributes directly to the economy. In this backdrop, immediate awareness drives are required to be initiated by the government to educate the masses about food and water safety.