Vol. 5 Num 1137 Fri. August 10, 2007  
Front Page

Diseases spread as floodwaters recede

As floodwaters continue to recede, the number of patients infected with water-borne diseases is growing and the experts say that the situation might take a turn for worse in the coming days.

Meanwhile, prices of some medicines, including oral saline, rose in many flood-affected areas, even in the capital. The oral saline, which usually sells at Tk 3, was being sold at Tk 5 at many city pharmacies yesterday.

Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) said floodwater in the central part of the country, including the capital, is expected to recede in a week.

In the last 24 hours, at least 4,744 people were diagnosed with diarrhoea in the 38 flood-hit districts, while the total number of diarrhoea patients now stands at 23, 716, says the diarrhoea control room.

A total of 18 people died due to flood-related reasons in the last 24 hours, ending at 11:00am yesterday, raising the death toll to 210 across the country.

Scores of diarrhoea, pneumonia and typhoid patients thronged various hospitals, especially the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) yesterday compelling the authorities to engage more doctors and staffs to cope with the situation.

ICDDR,B authorities said around 600 to 700 diarrhoea patients are coming to the hospital every day.

A large number of children suffering from fever, pneumonia and skin diseases were rushed to DMCH, Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital, and Dhaka Shishu Hospital yesterday.

DMCH Resident Mohammad Monir Hossain said more than 400 children suffering from various water-borne diseases, including diarrhoea, typhoid and skin diseases are admitted to DMCH every day.

"Fearing the outbreak of diarrhoea may take an epidemic form, Tongi Hospital authorities demanded 50,000 bags of saline, but they got only 50 bags," a doctor of the hospital said on condition of anonymity.

Dr Rahima Akhtar Naju, who was treating patients at Rajarbagh Abhoy Binodini Girls' School at Sabujbagh in the city, said the situation might worsen if immediate supply of saline is not ensured.

Kamrunnahar Rosy, a housewife in Uttara, Dhaka said, "The pharmacies are selling saline at a higher price. The oral saline is selling at Tk 5, which was selling at Tk 3 earlier. I wanted to buy one box, but I could manage only a pack."

The government, however, is claiming that it has adequate stock of saline and necessary medicines.

"The stock of saline and medicines is good everywhere in the country, there is no crisis," said Prof Moazzem Hossain, director of disease control, yesterday.

Health Adviser Matiur Rahman at a meeting with the medicine businessmen in the city said the government would set up at least one diarrhoea section at every hospital until the threat of flood-related diseases is gone.

"The joint forces will take actions against businesses guilty of increasing the price of medicines or saline," he told the journalists.

He warned that the floodwater should not be used for any purposes. "Prevention is more important. The elderly should be very careful about it," the adviser said.

Meanwhile, Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) yesterday launched flood shelters at the city's Rajarbagh area. DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka yesterday distributed relief among the flood-hit people.

Our correspondent in Gaibandha reports: A total of 445 were diagnosed with diarrhoea yesterday and the disease is spreading fast in the four flood-affected upazilas of the district.

At least 2,835 people have been infected with water-borne diseases in the district, according to the civil surgeon's office.

Most patients are being treated in makeshift medical centres in different flood-hit areas, said Shamsul Huq, civil surgeon of Gaibandha.

Meanwhile, erosion by the Teesta and Brahmaputra intensified at different areas of the district. One Quddus Ali, 6, of Burail Korban in Kapasia union drowned.

Our staff correspondent in Bogra reports: Many flood-affected people in Sariakandi and Dhunat upazilas are now short of drinking water, food, and especially baby food.

Finance Adviser ABM Mirza Azizul Islam visited flood-affected areas of Dhunat and Sariakandi upazilas and distributed relief materials among the flood victims yesterday.

At a meeting in Dhunat Municipality Auditorium, he said the government would start rehabilitation programmes after the floodwater recedes completely.

A correspondent in Chandpur reports: Two children drowned in floodwater in Chandpur yesterday.

A correspondent in Faridpur reports: Over 500 people have been infected with water-borne diseases in the district and the number is climbing. There is a shortage of oral saline in the flood-hit areas. Scarcity of food and drinking water remains in the remote flood-affected areas.

Modaser Ali Esa, secretary of the district BNP, distributed hotchpotch among 2,000 flood victims who took shelter in schools of Faridpur town.

FBCCI President Mir Nasir Hossain distributed relief in the district yesterday while the Red Crescent started first phase of their relief operations.

According to FFWC, flood situation around Dhaka city, especially in the eastern parts, started improving slowly and it will continue to do so in the next 24-72 hours.

The water levels of four out of five small rivers surrounding Dhaka and Narayanganj went down, while the Tongi canal at Tongi held its water level yesterday.

Water levels of all major rivers, including the Jamuna, Padma, Kaliganga and Dhaleswari are falling and will continue to fall, FFWC reported.

According to the Press Information Department (PID), floods in 38 districts affected around 99 lakh people and the government opened 1,317 flood shelters for them.

Crops on 7.39 lakh acres of land were destroyed completely and crops on 6.56 lakh acres were damaged. Around 74km of embankments were completely destroyed and 6,434km of embankments were damaged.

An elderly woman, too weak to move, looks on from behind the grills while others queue up for food at the flood victims' shelter at Abhoy Binodini High School at Basabo in the capital yesterday. PHOTO: SK Enamul Haq