KARACHI: Expressing serious concerns over the prevailing poor post-rain civic conditions in the city, representative bodies of doctors warned on Friday that the situation might lead to outbreaks of different diseases if the government did not wake up to the threat and started acting diligently.

They sought government attention towards one of the city’s long-standing issues pertaining to the obsolete water supply and sewerage system, often causing mixing of water with sewage and making people ill due to waterborne diseases.

They also urged the public to adopt all preventive health measures and demonstrate ownership and civic responsibility towards their locality by ensuring that solid waste was properly disposed of and effectively seeking government intervention, where required.

Following last week’s torrential rains, the sewerage system of the city — already in fragile condition — collapsed completely, resulting in filthy water flooding almost all thoroughfares and neighbourhoods of the metropolis.

“It’s the sewage-mixed rainwater making people’s life miserable these days. All over the world, the sewerage and rainwater drainage systems are kept separate and the latter is harvested for public use. Unfortunately, however, we not only failed to devise such a system in decades but created more mess by allowing encroachment of city’s major drains,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).

PIMA asks government to launch a fumigation drive in city

The government, he emphasised, must take immediate notice of the dilapidated drainage/sewerage and water supply systems and upgrade them on a war-footing basis as the city might see heavier rains next year due to changing climatic conditions.

Sewage inundates a section of M.A. Jinnah Road, Denso Hall (right) and North Nazimabad’s Hyderi Market (below) on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Sewage inundates a section of M.A. Jinnah Road, Denso Hall (right) and North Nazimabad’s Hyderi Market (below) on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

Besides, he pointed out, the city’s filthy post-rain civic conditions might cause outbreaks of different diseases, particularly those caused by contaminated water and mosquitoes including typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, hepatitis A and E, and dengue.

“People living in such conditions are also vulnerable to skin and eye diseases. Hence, it is extremely important that the government act fast and people should adopt preventive measures such as boiling water for drinking purposes, if mineral bottled water is not available, and disposing of waste properly.”

Sharing concerns over many deaths from electrocution, Dr Sajjad urged the provincial and federal governments to look into the pathetic performance of K-Electric and make the power utility accountable.

“Like water, electricity is a basic necessity and not a luxury. So many lives are lost to electrocution whenever there is rain in the city and people are deprived of electricity for days but there hasn’t been any improvement in the power utility’s system for years,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) has demanded that the government fumigate all areas where rainwater/sewage was still standing and ensure supply of typhoid vaccine and other medicines in the market.

The association urged people to make use of mosquito nets and anti-mosquito sprays at night, demonstrate caution while eating out and buying food products, ensure hand hygiene and wear face masks at crowded places.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2020