Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

HAITI OUTBREAK SHOULD RING ALARM BELLS IN PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s leadership and media have been bogged down with a non-political crisis and an unwarranted issue with the judiciary. With the country barely out of the worst floods in history, the memory loss of the power corridors and opposition is beyond comprehension.

Here’ a grim reminder from abroad.In recent days over 200 people have died due to an outbreak of Cholera as over a million people in Haiti are living in tents after a devastating earthquake. The disease is spreading like wildfire and five cases have been detected in the capital as well. Within days 2,674 cases of the disease have been reported. The worst-hit areas, as always, are the down trodden slums with little or no health facilities. Even in areas that have hospitals, they’re running out of medicine.

Here is the root-cause, most patients fell ill after drinking contaminated water.

According to recent statistics Pakistan’s 35 percent population does not have access to clean drinking water and 4.5 million-acre feet water is becoming polluted every year due to various reasons.

In Sindh sewage water, agricultural and industrial waste is pouring in Manchar lake. The lake was recently flushed by the floods and now all effluents are seeping downstream towards lower Sindh and Naseerabad, Balochistan. Luckily the population in the Kutcha area has still not returned after being displaced by the floods but that coincidence should not be taken for granted. NGOs are warning that due to cattle deaths and agricultural waste, the polluted flood water may contain strains of very harmful bacteria and deadly chemicals. As the government is eager to send the flood affected back home, a thorough study needs to be done to determine if it is safe for them to return. Water purifiers and provision of basic health facilities needs to be revisited to ensure an imminent disaster can be avoided.

With the cases of Polio on the rise and an unstoppable increase in Dengue cases across the country, government’s health strategy and priorities need to be revisited. Haiti is nature’s warning to the disaster managers in Pakistan and one can only hope lessons will be learnt on time before any further loss of life.