Pakistan, NWFP: Militants cause gastroenteritis in Swat Valley

Militants blow up a an electricity sub-station, causing tube wells and the water supply to be disrupted; people resort to using dirty water and then fall sick. This, in a nutshell, is what has happened in parts of Swat Valley in North West Frontier Province.

Over 2,000 {people] have visited [the Saidu Teaching Hospital (STH) in Swat District hospital] since 2 October [2008], amid rumours that cholera had erupted in Saidu Sharif, capital of Swat District, about 3km from the city of Mingora, where the grid station was blown up by militants.

[...]

“It’s not cholera,” said Mohammad Khan, medical superintendent at the 500-bed STH near the River Swat. “It is acute watery diarrhoea which is also known as gastroenteritis and the media is misinforming people,” he said. [...] WHO has sent cholera kits (also used for treating gastroenteritis) for 2,000 patients and samples are being collected to rule out cholera.

[...]

“People think because they are using running water, it is clean. What they fail to understand is that they wash their clothes, bathe and even defecate in the same water they use for drinking. Even untreated sewage finds its way into these streams,” said Owais Yaqoob, a doctor at STH.

[...]

The executive district health officer in Swat, Bakht Jamal [...] is mobilising the mosques, and vehicles are making announcements through loudspeakers at street corners telling people to boil water and wash hands with soap before eating, and after visiting toilets. Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been working in the conflict zones of Matta and Kabal [...] has hired three generators which are running tube wells on a rotational basis in Mingora city. WHO teams are also distributing chlorine tablets in Mingora.

Source: IRIN, 15 Oct 2008

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