West Bengal Reports Surge in Waterborne Diseases

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 18 2009 6:36 PM

Residents of several districts in West Bengal, after having endured the aftermath of cyclone Aila in May, now grapple with an outbreak of diarrhea.

Waterborne diseases are spreading amongst the 6.8 million people affected by the May 25 cyclone. So far diarrhea has killed 28 persons and another 85,000 diarrhea cases have been reported from across the state.

Availability of clean drinking water remains a serious challenge in the worst affected North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts.

"After Aila all the tube-wells are under water and the villagers here are suffering gastronomic problems. Because of a major water crisis we have got diarrhea and are admitted to the hospital," said Bharat Bhanja, a villager from Ghoshpur.

Health officials have disinfected over 7,000 tube-wells and about 15,000 litres of safe drinking water pouches are being distributed in the affected areas every day.

Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), Halazone tablets and bleaching powder solution are being distributed to check an outbreak of diarrhea.

While the government has deployed 375 medical teams, NGOs and international agencies including the UNICEF are providing aid to over 50,000 families.

"After Alia a major challenge was to combat waterborne diseases which could have come out like the diarrhea cases. The state and UNICEF are responding to lessen the impact of these cases," said Anil Gulati, a spokesman for the local UNICEF office.

At least 275 people died as cyclone Aila hit parts of coastal Bangladesh and West Bengal state on May 25, triggering tidal surges and floods and destroying hundreds of thousands of homes.