Islamabad: At least four people, including a two-year-old child, have died due to a cholera outbreak in Pir Koh, located in the remote region of Dera Bugti district in Balochistan province.
At least 1,500 people had fallen ill with the disease as of now since the first cholera case was reported on April 17, according to Azam Bugti, the district health officer in Dera Bugti. The health officials found that the water samples from ponds being used for drinking purposes were contaminated with bacteria causing cholera.
Water shortages are increasing health risks in Pir Koh settlement - home to nearly 40,000 residents. Plagued by water scarcity, the locals are forced to depend on untreated and contaminated water sources for drinking and daily needs. And when they fall sick, there are limited health facilities available. Locals claimed the number of deaths has exceeded over a dozen due to the cholera outbreak.
“Our cattle are dying and our kids are forced to drink contaminated water,” Muhammad Bakhsh Bugti, a resident of Pir Koh, told local media. His children and other family members have fallen sick following the outbreak of cholera. The locals also staged a protest to demand clean drinking water and better health facilities in the region.
Rs10 million emergency fund
On Thursday, Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo took notice and announced a special fund of Rs10 million for Public Health Engineering (PHE) to provide clean water to the area in Pir Koh on an emergency basis. The PHE is the government department tasked with ensuring the supply of safe drinking water and sewerage projects in the province. Chief Minister Bizenjo also ordered that the supply of water tankers should continue until the monsoon rains and increase in water reserves.
Cholera is one of the common diseases in developing countries that is spread through contaminated food or water. Cholera transmission increases when people lack safe water sources for drinking and hygiene. It is an extremely virulent disease that can cause acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration. Without treatment, severe cholera can lead to death within hours. Each year, approximately 53,300 children under the age of five die from diarrhoea in Pakistan, according to the UNICEF report 2019.