Diseases spread as floodwater starts receding

Gear up efforts to prevent a public health crisis

Published : 27 Jun 2022 08:25 PM

It is alarming to note that waterborne diseases are spreading in the flood-hit regions of Bangladesh as floodwater started receding. Many people are suffering from diarrhoea, skin diseases, dysentery, cholera and other waterborne diseases. 

According to Directorate General of Health Services, more than 4,000 people have contracted waterborne illnesses, including diarrhea, in flood-hit districts, with more than half the cases in the Sylhet region. Reportedly, in the past 24 hours, a total of 452 people have been affected by diarrhoea in four flood-hit divisions --  Sylhet, Rangpur, Chattagram and Mymensingh -- while 53 people have also suffered from skin diseases. 

As floodwaters slowly recede, the spectre of multiple disease outbreaks loom large over flood-affected areas. After every flood, when the water level starts receding, there is always a threat of outbreak of enteric and water-borne diseases. Some of the water gets trapped in some puddles and depressions, which become breeding ground of diseases, including bacterial and viral. 

Research based on floods across the country have highlighted the severe short- and long-term health consequences of flooding, ranging from stunting and malnutrition in children to infectious diseases to mental illnesses like stress, anxiety and depression.

To help the people affected by the devastating 

flood, more free health camps should be set 

up in the flood-affected areas

Nearly five lakh people have faced temporary displacement during recent floods in Sylhet, Sunamganj, and seven other northeastern districts. The devastating flash floods affected about 72 lakh people, damaged crops on over 83,000 hectares, and washed away 4,056 farm animals. 

It is encouraging to note that in order to provide healthcare support to the flood-affected regions of the country, as many as 2,050 medical teams have been working since the beginning of the flood. They are providing food, saline, and medicine to the flood-affected people. 

It needs no emphasising that safe drinking water, disinfection of water sources and emergency repair or replacement of latrines and tube-wells are needed to avoid an outbreak of water-borne diseases. To help the people affected by the devastating flood, more free health camps should be set up in the flood-affected areas. 

It is time to gear up efforts to prevent a public health crisis. More physicians should be deployed and the number of medical teams should be increased to deal with the surge in waterborne diseases.