• Thursday, Feb 20, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:44 am

Outbreak of waterborne diseases in Kurigram and Gaibandha

  • Published at 01:44 am July 26th, 2019

Dhaka Tribune reporter Mehedi Al Amin and photographer Syed Zakir Hossain travel to the northern districts of Kurigram and Gaibanndha to see first hand how the monsoon flood has affected humans and animals alike, who have been displaced from their homes and struggling to make it through everyday

As water levels recede in Kurigram and Gaibandha, different types of waterborne diseases are breaking out in these districts.

There is a substantial rise in diarrhoea, and a number of skin diseases in the flood affected areas. Authorities are working both at the field level as well as hospitals to tackle the post-flood crisis.

In Kurigram, Abul Kashem came to Kurigram Sadar Hospital on Wednesday with his 22-month-old son, Mazharul Islam.

Kashem said: "My son has been suffering from diarrhoea for the last five days. I admitted him to [Kurigram] Sadar Hospital on Wednesday. There was no mode of transportation to bring him to the hospital earlier."

Another child, Zayan Babu, has been suffering from diarrhoea for the last four days. His grandfather, Tarik Uddin, brought him to the hospital on Wednesday.

Tarik said: "We drink boiled water but wash our dishes with tube-well water. The tube-well was under flood water for a few days."

Sumayia Khatun, a nurse of Kurigram Sadar Hospital said: "The number of diarrhoea patients is increasing by the day. Normally, we [the hospital] receive four to five patients in the diarrhoea ward every day. But the number has been increasing for the last three days. We have already received seven patients by 12pm today [Wednesday].

"We have a total of 12 beds in the diarrhoea ward. All are occupied," she said.

Kurigram Sadar Hospital’s Emergency Duty Officer Dr Amulla Kumar said: "Flood water is decreasing, and patients with waterborne diseases have started to come in – mainly with diarrhoea, and skin diseases. We expect more patients in the coming days."

"However, people are not being able to come to the hospital due to lack of transportation which may cause casualties," he warned.

"To prevent that, the hospital authority has formed medical teams to go door to door to provide service," he added.

However there is no designated doctor for diarrhoea wards. A senior medical assistant is looking after the patients, Dr Amulla said.

In Gaibandha, an 18-month-old child, Fahad, has been infected by waterborne skin disease.

Fahad's father, Soku Mia, is residing temporarily at a shelter built on top of a dam constructed by Water Development Board at Bhasher para in Fulchhari upazila.

He said: "We have no tube-well at the temporary shelter. So we use the flood water for all purposes. I also got infected by some skin disease on my hands, and legs."

Sayma Khatun, 30, who is also currently living at the same temporary shelter has been suffering from diarrhoea for the last two days, but was not admitted to hospital.

Sayma said: "It is not possible to get admitted to the hospital since I have to look after my whole family. I have two children."

In Gaibandha Sadar Hospital, 45 diarrhoea patients got admitted until  Wednesday. Normally the hospital authority handles about 25 to 30 diarrhoea patients.

Gaibandha Civil Surgeon Dr ABM Abu Hanif said: "Flooding has not stopped in the district. Patients with waterborne disease has increased but not in a large number. If the flood water remains for some more days, and people stay in shelter houses for more days, the situation may become worse."

"But we took preparation to tackle the situation. 109 medical teams are working in the flood affected areas. We sent water purifying tablets, and saline to different local health care centres."

Emirates Friendship Hospital takes a different approach

Meanwhile in Gaibandha, Emirates Friendship Hospital Ship is providing service among the flood affected people in char (submerged sandbed) areas.

Asish Kumar, management information system officer of Emirates Friendship Hospital Ship said: "Every day we provide health services to 100 to 150 patients. Most of them are coming in to our ship with diarrhoea, and skin diseases for the last four days."