Nearly 1.4 million people hit by post-flood diseases in Bangladesh

Flood-affected people including children wait in a queue to receive safe water in Gaibandha Dhaka Tribune. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

DHAKA, Jul 22, 2019, Dhaka Tribune. Floodwater started to recede in Kurigram, and Gaibandha prompting many flood-hit people to return to their homes, yet the inundated roads, and waterborne infectious diseases, keep compounding the sufferings of the affected people in the districts, reported Dhaka Tribune.

With the recession of floodwater, the two northern districts are facing post flood hazards, such as diarrhoea, and other waterborne diseases have been spreading sporadically among the flood-affected people, intensifying the sufferings of the flood victims.

The inundated roads are making it worse as the villagers couldn’t even travel to the nearby health complexes for treatment.

In Kurigram, Although the water level of major rivers has fallen, the sufferings of about a million flood-hit people have increased, because of a shortage of drinking water, food, fodder, and fuel. Sanitation has also turned out to be a major problem with many people suffering from water-borne diseases.

Locals alleged that they are not receiving proper medical care from the authority, and are lacking of doctors, and medicine, making the situation worse.

Locals of Namarchor village of Sadar upazila, Munni, Shahida Kajli, and Nejam Uddin said they are treating their sick children only with oral salines from nearby shops. No help from the authority has reached Sadar, Chilmari, Roumari, and Rajibpur upazilas.

Denying the allegations, Kurigram Civil Surgeon Dr Aminul Islam said a total of 85 teams with 35 MBBS doctors are working in the flood-affected areas ensuring proper medical treatment to the people of the district.

Chilmari Upazila Health Complex Residential Doctor Mostari Begum said: “The victims are mainly suffering from diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, eczema, itches, and other waterborne diseases.

“These diseases will spread more after the water fully recedes,” she added.

The district administration’s control room sources said, 73 unions of nine upazilas were flooded. Farmers of the flood-hit areas, in particular, are staring at an uncertain future as 20,000 hectares of cropland were flooded.

The district’s infrastructure has also been severely damaged with 1,245km road, 40km embankment, and 41 bridges and culverts affected. Over 9,734 tube wells are also underwater.

According to Kurigram Water Development Board, Brahmaputra and Dharala rivers were flowing 63cm and 23cm above the danger level respectively, Brahmaputra was 90cm above the danger level, and Dharala at 59cm on Saturday.

A total of 755 educational institutions, including 128 secondary schools, 70 madrasas, 17 colleges, and 540 primary schools, had to suspend academic activities due to rising water. Among the district’s 1,240 government primary schools, 536 had been flooded.

The district administration has distributed five metric tonnes of rice, Tk 13.5 lakh, and 3,000 packets of dry food among the flood-affected people.

The district administration sources said over 64,000 people took shelter in 186 centres in the district.

In Gaibandha, floodwaters started to recede from Brahmaputra, and Ghagat River in the last three days.

The situation worsened as there is an acute shortage of pure drinking water in addition to improper sanitation.

In the last five days around 6 kilometres of rail tracks went out of order due to the inundation.

Bangladesh Water Development Board, Deputy Engineer Mukhlesur Rahman said: “In the last 24 hours the water level has receded in Brahmaputra, and Karatoya River but it is still above the danger level.”

Abul Kashem , station-master of Gaibandha railway station said: “Railway communication to only Lalmonirhat and Dinajpur is continuing. And road communication from Gaibandha to Sundarganj, Saghata, Phooljhori, and Balasi is disrupted.”

According to district relief and rehabilitation office (DRRO), Almost 5.5 lakh people are stuck in their marooned homes. Among them, 75 thousand took shelter in 184 government shelters. Almost 600 kilometres of roads are underwater. 63 kilometres of embankments are broken. 12 thousand hectares of crop fields are underwater. Fishes of 7000 ponds are lost in the flood.

Gaibandha District Commissioner Abdul Matin said: “We allocated almost Tk15 lakh, a thousand metric ton rice, and 6 thousand cartons of dry food for the flood victims. Half of the relief was delivered to the people.”

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