Diarrhoea cases soar amid heat

Five-month-old Tasana being fed by her mother at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) in the city's Mohakhali on Monday. The girl was brought to Dhaka from Shariatpur on that day for better treatment. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq

With a heat wave sweeping across the country, several hundred diarrhoea patients have been admitted to hospitals across the country.

There were 1,067 diarrhoea patients reported to have been undergoing treatment in the hospitals on Monday. The number was 1,096 the previous day and 844 on April 1, according to the National Health Crisis Management Centre and Control Room of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

“The number of such patients increases whenever there is a rise in temperature,” said a physician at the DGHS. 

According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), yesterday's highest temperature -- 39.5 degrees Celsius -- was recorded in Rajshahi division followed by 38.4 and 37 degrees Celsius in Khulna and Dhaka divisions.

The lowest temperature -- 32.9 degree Celsius -- was recorded in Chittagong division.

A severe heat wave swept over the regions of Pabna, Jessore and Kushtia, and a mild to moderate heat wave over Dhaka and Rangpur divisions and other parts of Rajshahi and Khulna divisions.

The heat wave may continue, said the BMD.

A huge number of the diarrhoea patients in the hospitals are women and children.

“My six-month-old daughter Sumaiya and ten-year-old son Sumon have diarrhoea. The boy has improved but the baby girl hasn't. She has become very feeble in the last few days,” said one Taslima Akhter.

The 29-year-old woman, who lives with her family in Dakshhin Khan area, was talking to this correspondent at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) at Mohakhali in the capital yesterday.

Sumaiya had continuously been discharging waste from her bowels and vomiting for the last five days. The mother had both her children admitted to the hospital on Monday.

“My son is stable now. But I am worried about my daughter,” said Taslima.

Farida Begum, 60, was rushed to the same hospital from Gazipur's Salna after she had to go to the toilet 12 times in eight hours since 12midnight yesterday. 

“I had to go to the washroom every time I ate something,” said a weak Farida.

As many as 210 such patients were admitted to the icddr,b on the first 14 hours of yesterday, according to the hospital.

On April 10, the number was 465 and it was 445 the next day.

The hospital authorities said usually they provide treatment to around 250 to 300 such patients at a time. But the number goes up to between 400 and 500 during March-May.

Apart from blaming it on the sweltering heat, doctors also pointed out that diarrhoea causes mainly due to the consumption of contaminated water and food.

Dr Azharul Islam Khan, head of the diarrhoeal diseases unit at the icddr,b, said many poor people, especially those living in the slums, drink unsafe water and street juice to keep themselves hydrated in hot weather.

In high temperature, many food items also get easily contaminated with harmful bacterium.

He said people should drink boiled and safe water all the time. Before eating, they should warm their food if that is kept in refrigerators, he suggested.

Everyone should wash their hands after using toilets and before taking meals. Once anyone has diarrhoea, he or she must have oral saline, advised the doctor. “If things get worse, the person must see a doctor immediately.”


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