GE outbreak

Published April 6, 2024

THE denizens of Pakistan’s most populous city seem to be on their own: a new misery awaits them at every turn. These days, apart from the surging crime rate, Karachiites must also worry about an outbreak of a waterborne disease, which has been surging through communities and wreaking havoc on the city’s already stretched health facilities. The city’s Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital recently reported that it is receiving 1,500 new cases of gastroenteritis at its emergency department every single day, which account for 70pc to 80pc of all medical emergencies received by the facility. The daily numbers of GE patients have remained persistently high, and health officers believe consumption of contaminated water is behind the outbreak. They are worried that people are either not getting sufficient gas supplied to their homes, with which they may boil drinking water, or are avoiding using it for that purpose owing to the hefty increase in the gas tariff.

The water supplied to Karachi’s homes is generally contaminated, health experts believe, and boiling tap water is a must if it is to be used for human consumption. Most of the city’s population generally rely on this method or domestic filtration solutions to clean the water they use, while the more fortunate may subscribe to bottled water supply services for their drinking needs. However, disease, as Covid-19 taught humanity, does not discriminate between the well-to-do and those not so well-off. A GE outbreak in disadvantaged communities can easily spread to those who can afford the privilege of clean water because of the myriad ways it can pass from person to person. There is a need, therefore, for the city’s residents and representatives to collectively demand safer water and better purification facilities from the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation. Apart from that, public and private health officials should also engage with their communities to share preventive tips and encourage better hygiene practices.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2024

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