KARACHI: The deadly brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria Fowleri, claimed its latest victim on Monday; a 32-year-old pregnant woman, taking the death toll in the province to eight.
Meanwhile, the dengue fever death toll reached nine as a 43-year-old man died in a private hospital on Tuesday.
“It is a case of negligence. People should not die because of a disease that is completely preventable,” said Karachi Health EDO Dr Zafar Ejaz. “We didn’t just lose a woman, we also lost a child.”
Showing serious concern over the new case, Dr Ejaz said that the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) should address the issue at hand. “Out of the eight deaths, only one patient had recently gone swimming. The others died while using domestic water, which is being provided by the KWSB.”
Hina, wife of Ashfaq Motan, was a resident of the Adamjee Nagar Ghazi Salauddin Road. She was admitted into a private hospital complaining of headache and fever on August 29, and died on Monday after being shifted to a ventilator when her condition took a turn for the worse.
KWSB claims that samples taken from various parts of the city show that 14 per cent of the samples are without chlorine. However, other sources informed The Express Tribune that the percentage is more than double that figure. It was also learnt that regular reports are not being shared with health officials and the level of chlorine is not being maintained.
“I don’t think it is a matter of low level of chlorine in our water only,” justified Azam Khan, an official of the KWSB who has been assigned by the provincial government as the focal person of the Naegleria committee. “People don’t just use our water supply, some of them also use groundwater,” he said, adding that the water samples taken from the area where the pregnant woman had died had the required level of chlorine.
However, Dr Ejaz thought otherwise. “The deaths only occur when there is a lack of chlorine in the water,” he claimed.
A patient with dengue fever died in the city, the ninth dengue-related death this year. Health officials fear that an outbreak is possible due to the monsoon season, claiming that proper measures are not being taken.
Afzal Muhammad, a Nazimabad resident, died in a private hospital while being treated. The provincial government has established a Dengue Prevention and Control Programme but it has failed to address the issue. Over 450 cases of dengue have been reported in the province but the provincial head office has not disclosed the information.
Last year, the Provincial Dengue Surveillance Cell had kept the citizens updated about new cases and this had spread awareness among the masses. This year, however, this information is being kept secret and medical experts believe that the officials are not revealing the details of the cases deliberately in order to hide their negligence.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2014.