Diarrhoeal cases double
The number of diarrhoea patients has risen sharply in the capital and some parts of the country owing to the scarcity of safe drinking water, sweltering weather and lack of personal hygiene.
Dr Azaharul Islam Khan, head of the Short Stay Unit of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), told The Daily Star yesterday that about 200 to 250 patients are admitted to the city hospital a day during the period of October-November but the number has increased to about 400 this week.
Most of the patients come from areas where crises of drinking water and power are severe. The areas include Khilkhet, Khilgaon, Taltola, Namatola of Shampur, Badda, Mirpur and Dakkhin Khan. High population density of the areas makes the situation even worse.
Azaharul said that as the autumn begins, the weather becomes cooler but this year the sudden increase of temperature and humidity caused people to suffer from water borne diseases.
According to Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), in 24 hours from 6:00am on Sunday, 118 diarrhoea patients were admitted to Jessore Sadar Hospital while 90 to Naogaon, 69 to Thakurgaon, 65 to Bogra and 62 to Nilphamari hospitals.
The head of the unit mentioned that people suffering from diarrhoea or other water borne diseases belong to lower income groups with little or no access to safe drinking water.
People suffer from dehydration because of the scorching weather and frequent power cuts, and the city dwellers living in the densely populated areas suffer more badly.
Azaharul continued that poor people quench their thirst not by potable water but by the water easily available for them. The more they get thirsty in hot weather, the more unhygienic water they drink.
Mostly day labourers, rickshaw pullers, school going children and elderly people are affected by water borne diseases, he said. School going children fall sick as they eat ice creams, juices, pickles from roadside vendors who hardly care about hygiene.
Doctors suggest that to avoid water borne diseases, people should boil water for at least 10 minutes before drinking, keep water tanks clean, use water purifying tablets and maintain personal hygiene.
Dr Shahadat Hossain, head of Long Stay Unit of ICDDR,B, said people infected with diarrhoea should drink oral saline and seek treatment in case of severity.
The statistics of ICDDR,B, show that the number of patients receiving treatment of diarrhoea from hospitals is increasing every year since 2006. The number of patients was around 8,877 in 2006 while it was 10,177 in 2007; 10,182 in 2008 and 11,601 in 2009.