With the onset of Ramazan, the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have witnessed a severe outbreak of gastroenteritis.
According to data collected from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), over 600 patients suffering from stomach-related illnesses have visited the emergency department in the past six days while around 300 daily visit the emergency department of Polyclinic Hospital for the same reason.
Similarly, the emergency department of the allied hospitals of Rawalpindi has received 1,243 patients suffering from gastro since the start of Ramazan.
It was learnt that patients thronging these hospitals belong to the lower socio-economic classes and the ratio of males to females is the same.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Mohammad Haroon, medical specialist at Pims and Dr Tanvir Malik, the emergency ward in-charge at Polyclinic termed change in eating habits, overeating, consumption of contaminated water and unhygienic food and lack of exercise as the major reasons behind this. Dr Haroon said on July 17, the hospital received the highest number of patients suffering from gastroenteritis in the emergency ward which resulted in the shortage of standard drips of normal saline and ringer lactate.
He said the majority of patients said they eat traditional food items for Iftar, bought from the market.
Besides, owing to the hot weather people consume surplus water when they break fast in the evening which can lead to severe stomach ache in some cases, he said.
He further stated that as the period between Iftar and Sehri is short, people do not find ample time to digest their food before consuming another heavy meal.
“People should eat all kind of food and consume water but in an amount which is acceptable by the body and should do some exercise for easy and quick digestion,” he suggested.
Dr Malik said that in the past few years, there has been an increase in the trend of going out for Iftar and Sehri.“This should be avoided, especially when Ramazan falls in the summer,” he said.
A senior physician at Holy Family Hospital said that majority of shopkeepers fry pakoras, samosas and other items in reused and substandard oil. Besides this, they refrigerate leftover food and fry it again the next day, he said, adding that “the number of gastroenteritis patients are increasing every year but the govt is not paying attention to get rid of its root causes”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.