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Fallout of Floods : Onslaught of diarrhoea, pneumonia continues in Bangladesh

Author/Source : The Daily Star
Publish Date :Sat, 11 Aug 2007

The onslaught of water-borne diseases in the capital continues with around a thousand patients checking every day into the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) alone. The number is around 500 at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

A total of 840 people with cases of diarrhoea and pneumonia were admitted to the ICDDR, B in 20 hours ending at 8:00pm yesterday. Some 900 were admitted in the previous 24 hours, said Shahadat Hossain of the health research centre located at Mohakhali.

According to the Directorate General of Health control room, 4,146 people contracted diarrhoea across the country in the 24 hours ending at yesterday noon.
During the same period, 45 people drowned in floodwaters, three died of diarrhoea, and another three from snakebites.

The number of people diagnosed with respiratory diseases stood at 1,190, eye infections at 209 while 4,133 were reported to have come down with various water-borne diseases.

Experts say diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases began to spread as floodwater started receding and it is evident in the hospitals across the city and elsewhere in the country.

Most of the patients are seriously ill, and almost 50 percent of them could be suffering from cholera, Dr Azharul Islam Khan of the ICDDR, B told journalists. "The number of patients is larger than that in the previous years," he added.
Shahadat said people are infected with diarrhoea mainly because they drink or use contaminated water. "Water must be boiled or purified by other means like tablets," he suggested.

The government should undertake preventive measures and supply oral saline, he said, adding that most of the patients are adult and are suffering from acute diarrhoea.

A large number of children down with fever, pneumonia and skin diseases were rushed to Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital and Shishu Hospital in the capital yesterday, sources concerned said.

It would take at least a week for the floodwater to recede from the eastern part of Dhaka and more than 10 days from the old parts of the capital, according to Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC). Water levels of the major rivers are also falling fast, FFWC said.

The water level in the Balu river, which is responsible for floods in the eastern part of the city, is coming down at a rate of 4-5cm a day, while the Turag, now flowing 54cm above danger level, is falling 5cm a day, FFWC said.

Floodwaters in most of the northern districts will recede completely in the next four to five days and the overall situation will mark a significant improvement in the next seven to 10 days, said FFWC Assistant Engineer Mustafa Sorwar last evening.

A total of 16 people died yesterday, raising the death count to 226 in this year's flooding.


The administration in the flood-affected districts have so far received from the government 13,415 tonnes of GR (gracious relief) rice, Tk 4.51 crore in cash, Tk 1.22 crore as house-building grants, Tk 48.50 lakh for dry foods, and Tk 39.50 lakh for relief and rescue operations.

Our staff correspondent Hasibur Rahman Bilu and Golam Mostafa Jibon from Sirajganj reports: Thousands of children are infected with skin and other water-borne diseases due to shortages of food and drinking water in the district.

Many children admitted to North Bengal Medical College Hospital were found to have picked up various skin diseases.

District Sadar Thana Health Officer Abdul Momen said, "Diarrhoea may reach epidemic proportions here."

The diseased ones are not getting proper treatment. Hasina of Sadar upazila, who took shelter at Polytechnic Institute flood shelter, said her three-year-old daughter has been suffering from an unknown skin disease for the last five days. There was none to treat her. Many like Hasina made the same complaint.

Three gruel kitchens will be opened in Sirajganj Sadar and Kazipur of the district today (Saturday), said Sirajganj Deputy Commissioner Ibrahim Khalil.

Our correspondent in Manikganj reports: At least 164 people were infected with diarrhoea yesterday, raising the number to 1,063 in the district, District Relief and Rehabilitation Office sources said.

The floods have washed away crops on 83,165 acres of land. A total of 4,706 houses, 532 kms of road, 13 kms of embankments, 67 bridges and culvert, 139 educational institutions were badly damaged, they added.

Over 33,500 people out of the 6,35,946 flood victims in the district have taken refuge at 145 flood shelters. The district administration has distributed 600 tonnes of rice and Tk 14 lakh in cash among the victims.

Our correspondent in Mymensingh reports: A schoolboy drowned in the Brahmaputra near Madhumari village at Sadar upazila yesterday afternoon.

Hedayet, 9, a class two student, fell into the water when while walking on the riverbank, said police and locals.

Our correspondent in Faridpur reports: Two people drowned yesterday, raising the death toll to 12 in the district. They were Nasir Uddin Biswash, 75, and five-month-old Jannat.

The district units of BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) distributed relief goods among the destitute in Sadar and Nagarkanda upazilas.

A correspondent in Munshiganj reports: Around 750 people were infected with water-borne diseases, mostly with diarrhoea. Many started returning to their homes from the flood shelters.