KARACHI: A man died of naegleria fowleri, bringing the death toll from the brain-eating amoeba to five in the last month. Meanwhile, a boy died in what Dengue Prevention and Control Programme (DPCP) officials say is the first dengue fever death of the year.
Sufiyan, a 25-year-old resident of Manzoor Colony, died of naegleria fowleri after being admitted to Civil Hospital, Karachi, last week. Five people have lost their lives to the deadly brain-eating amoeba in a month.
Meanwhile, health experts claimed that the prevailing water crisis in the city had increased chances of being affected by naegleria. "Given the shortage, people are storing water; chlorine in water becomes less effective after 12 hours," an official told The Express Tribune. "If the water crisis is managed, the deaths caused by naegleria can also be brought under control."
The first death was reported from Gulistan-e-Jauhar in the last week of April, followed by the deaths of a man and a woman from DHA and Clifton respectively in the second week of May. The fourth patient to die of naegleria in the city was a man from Thatta district.
Taking notice of the cases, the health department formed a six-member committee on May 20, directing officials to ensure proper chlorination in potable water supplied across the city. It surfaced on Tuesday that of 38 water samples taken by the committee from across the city, 21 samples were not properly chlorinated.
Boy dies of dengue
A 10-year old boy, who was a resident of Orangi Town, was brought to the hospital on May 22 in critical condition. He tested positive for dengue virus and died the next day, the officials claimed, adding that the DPCP was informed about him on Tuesday. DPCP provincial programme manager Dr Shakeel Aamir Mulick also confirmed the boy's death.
A total of 40 cases of dengue fever have been reported in the province within the last week, including 14 cases from various districts in rural Sindh. According to DPCP officials, around 370 patients have been reported so far this year.
Meanwhile, health department officials said that the DPCP was facing a financial crunch and was unable to carry out routine activities. The health department has yet to release the funds of Rs42 million announced for the programme by the Sindh chief minister last year.
"Not a single penny has been released for the DPCP so far," disclosed an official who wished not to be named, adding that senior officials in the department had been requested to release the funds.
Dr Mullick, however, claimed that everything was under control. "There are no financial issues. The peak season is about to start and we are fully prepared to combat the disease." According to him, dengue fever was an urban-centric menace and the programme was, therefore, taking all possible measures to fight it in Karachi while the rest of the province was being handled by the health department's malaria control programme.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2015.
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