With the arrival of Ramazan, the sale of substandard, often unhygienic, food increases drastically. The increase in sales corresponds to an increase in patients suffering from various stomach-borne conditions such as diarrhea, typhoid and food poisoning. The food and beverages, sold openly in unhygienic conditions by street vendors, places hungry customers at a serious risk and emergency wards in the city are often full of patients.
Records from two casualty wards in the city paint an alarming picture - a total of 788 and 569 patients were given medication and discharged in the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) and Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) respectively. The patients were brought in soon after iftar on Monday, with the majority complaining of diarrhea and food poisoning.
“I drank four glasses of a beverage at iftar… I went unconscious soon after and felt my stomach hurt,” said Wahid Khan, a patient at KTH.
Another patient, Muhammad Ilyas said he and two of his colleagues from a factory contracted food poisoning from the food they bought from the market.
“In Ramazan people want to eat delicious food items, but so many of them are of inferior quality and common people fail to recognise what is good or bad for health,” he added.
LRH Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Fayaz Ali told The Express Tribune that the majority of food being sold in the market is substandard and can cause ailments like typhoid, hepatitis and diarrhea.
“54 per cent of Peshawar residents do not have access to safe drinking water,” Dr Ali further added. He pointed out that the excessive use of water and beverages on an empty stomach during iftar should also be avoided. A glass of water along with dates and other food items is sufficient, he said.
Dr Ali further advised precautionary measures saying food being sold in markets should be avoided.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.