In the last month and a half, people have died in Karachi from a disease which is totally preventable. Naegleria Fowleri, also known as brain-eating amoeba, is found in water that does not contain any chlorine, and kills the victim more than 95 per cent of the time. Scary. Yes.
It is incomprehensible how a disease that can easily be prevented is flourishing across the city. The Sindh health department carried out a study this year and found that more than half of the water samples from across the city did not contain any chlorination. In light of this finding, many people have taken to chlorinating the water tanks in their own homes, using, either chlorine tablets, available at pharmacies, or a certain amount of bleach.
However, lack of proper awareness or information regarding this disease means that only a tiny portion of the city’s population will be undertaking proper chlorination of their water. Unless the government gets more closely involved and takes large-scale measures to curb Naegleria Fowleri, it will, most likely, spread further, killing more people than it already has.
The dilemma is that the disease, which first found its way into Karachi in 2012 and took the lives of more than 40 people that year, continues to a pose a threat to those unaware of its deadly effects. Unfortunately, the rural areas, where there is lack of proper water supply, let alone chlorination of water, are more vulnerable to the disease. Despite the impact of this disease being widely reported in the media and the loss of life that it has caused, the government has failed to counter the disease effectively. And if no action is taken in the near future, the disease will continue to take more lives. This can be easily avoided, since the only precaution required is chlorination of water. What is needed is awareness among the general public regarding this.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2015.