The Swat Valley has been hit hard by a diarrhoea epidemic, with thousands of children and women falling victim to the fatal illness. Contaminated water from ponds and streams is suspected to have caused the outbreak.
Hundreds of patients have been admitted in different parts of the valley, however, the situation in Bahrain, Swat is particularly serious. The valley has only one basic health unit (BHU) which is not only short of medicines and staff, but is also lacking space to accommodate the patients.
“The situation in Bahrain is indeed very serious, with more than 300 people suffering from diarrhoea. To add to their miseries, there is a shortage of vaccines, physicians and even beds at the BHU,” said Zubair Torwali, a local civil society and human right activist. “The people don’t know where to go. We appeal to the concerned authorities to take immediate action,” he added.
Gut Bella, a remote area of Malam Jabba, is also in the grip of the disease, where a woman and a child died because they could not get access to medical facilities. Almost 250 people are have been affected by diarrhea in the region.
Karim, a local, said that the health department has not taken any steps to control the diarrhoea outbreak which is spreading fast in the region. “We don’t even have a single BHU and the patients have to go to Saidu Sharif for treatment,” he said, adding that most of the affected include women and children.
Executive District Officer Health, Bakht Jamal, when asked about the measures taken by the health department, said that fully equipped emergency teams have been sent to all affected areas, including Bahrain, Gut Bella, Tehsil Kabal and Tehsil Matta. “We have enough medicines and staff to deal with the issue, and our teams are working constantly to bring the situation under control.” Non-governmental organisations have also been mobilised for this purpose, he added.
He said the main reason behind the outbreak was contaminated water from ponds and streams, adding that the health department was running an awareness campaign for this purpose as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.
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