Sindh setting up wards at major hospitals after cholera cases

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Acting on the advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan, the health authorities in Sindh announced that they were establishing separate wards at the tertiary-care hospitals in Karachi for confirmed and suspected cases of cholera.

The Sindh health director general, who had a few days ago denied outbreak of cholera, confirmed on Friday that there was an outbreak of cholera in three districts of Karachi.

“I can now confirm that we are facing an outbreak of cholera in Karachi where most of the lab-confirmed cases are being reported from Central, East and South districts.

So far, 149 lab-confirmed cases of cholera have been reported from these three districts,” Sindh Health Director General Dr Muhammad Jumman Bahoto told The News.

Experts are blaming early summer and extreme warm temperatures in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in South Asia as well as some African countries, including Malawi and Nigeria, for the outbreak of infectious diseases, including cholera.

They add that besides extremely warm weather, consumption of contaminated water due to drought-like conditions and unhygienic environment were the major causes of the rising cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea.

Taking note of the supply of contaminated water in the city, the health authorities in Karachi urged the people to consume boiled or chlorinated water.

They also asked the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) to ensure that chlorinated water was supplied to the citizens.

Following reports of the cholera outbreak in Karachi, WHO Country Representative in Pakistan Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala rushed to Karachi where he visited the Civil Hospital Karachi and advised the health authorities in Sindh to establish separate wards for patients of acute watery diarrhoea and lab-confirmed cases of cholera as such patients should not be mixed with other patients.

The WHO country representative also provided 100,000 water-purifying tablets to the health authorities to supply them to citizens in the affected areas of Karachi.

He also assured that 100,000 more chlorine tablets would be supplied by the WHO in the days to come.

Each water purifying tablet can purify 5 litres of water, officials said. Dr Mahipala also called on Dr Jumman and asked him to strengthen the capacity of labs in Karachi and other cities of Sindh to detect cholera cases.

“WHO has allowed to us to hire 60 social mobilizers in 10 most-affected union councils in Karachi, six social mobilizes for each UCs to create awareness among local communities on consumption of clean drinking water and what they should do in case of diarrhoea and dysentery like disease in their families or people around them,” the Sindh health DG said.

He added that a massive awareness campaign was being launched in Karachi and other cities of Sindh through print, electronic and digital media regarding causes and prevention of diarrhoea. He stated that by adopting simple preventive measures, this outbreak could be contained without causing any significant damage.

Advisory issuedAll the district health officers (DHOs) in Sindh have been directed in an advisory to notify any suspected and confirmed case of cholera and any death caused by the disease as per guidelines of the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, according to which cholera is one the 34 diseases that are mandatory to be notified to international health authorities, including the WHO .

The DHOs have also been directed to communicate with other departments for supply of safe drinking water, sanitation and food safety practices, and continued health education among the staff and the community.They have also are also directed to ensure the availability of medications and establish control rooms at the health facilities.

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