The number of diarrhoea patients has been rising alarmingly in Bagerhat.
Medical staff at different hospitals of the district have been grappling with the sudden influx as they provided treatment to more than 600 diarrhoea patients in the past week alone, while 200 of the patients still remain hospitalised.
Dr KM Humayun Kabir, civil surgeon of Bagerhat, said the incidence of waterborne diseases has increased due to drinking of contaminated water.
Drying up of freshwater ponds in extreme heat amid a drought-like situation might have worsened the situation, he added.
Meanwhile, patients and their attendants alleged that the hospitals are providing only one set of saline and two tablets to each patient and everything else has to be purchased by the patient.
Acknowledging a shortage in the stock of saline, many hospital authorities said that a sudden increase in the number of patients caused the shortage.
They were providing free medications to the patients according to availability, they also said.
Mehedi (not his real name) was admitted to the Diarrhoea Ward of Bagerhat Sadar Hospital with complaints of vomiting and dysentery.
"I've been in the hospital for the last three days. Here, all the medicines except for a saline and a couple of tablets need to be bought from outside. I bought about Tk 3 thousand worth of medicines so far. The overall atmosphere inside is not so good either. Poor patients are having a hard time buying medicines from outside," he said.
A female diarrhoea patient was admitted to the same hospital on Wednesday from Ghazalia in Kachua upazila.
She was also provided only one saline and five more saline sets had to be bought by her relatives from outside.
''We are poor people. It was really difficult for me to buy the saline,'' she said.
Asked, the hospital's Resident Medical Officer Mirajul Karim said inadequate supply against a large number of patients is causing the situation.
"Around 20 to 25 patients are being admitted every day against only four beds in the ward of our hospital. We are also struggling to serve the patients. In last one week, I provided medical services to more than two hundred women, men and children. Many of the patients are still admitted here."
Drinking unsafe water might be one of the reasons that helped spread diarrhoea in the region, he also said.
Civil Surgeon Dr KM Humayun said water in most parts of Bagerhat, a coastal district, already has high salinity and the number of diarrhoea patients has been rising after freshwater ponds started drying up due to an ongoing drought.
The situation might improve after the monsoon replenishes the sources of freshwater, he hoped.
Regarding the scarcity of saline at hospitals in the district, he said, "We informed our higher authorities in Dhaka so more saline and medicines are sent urgently."