August 23, 2022
By Umar Bacha
Due to ongoing torrential showers and floods across Pakistan, rain-related diseases such as malaria and diarrhea are rapidly spreading in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Shangla district.
Locals say that around two to three people in every household have contracted one or the other disease, and shifts at out-patient departments (OPDs) in local hospitals have doubled.
Abdul Baqi, Focal Person for Malaria and a pathologist at a private laboratory, said that from August 1 till date, they have received some 1,600 suspected cases of malaria.
“Of these, 1,300 or so have tested positive. We are giving treatment and medicines free of cost, but because of the surge in patients, we are unable to tend to everyone’s needs.”
Tehsils Martong, Makhozi, Puran and surrounding areas are most affected by malaria and diarrhea, for which there is only one government hospital where patients can get the required treatment. Patients and doctors and
Malaria and diarrhea have affected Tehsil Martong, Tehsil Puran and Mukhozi and its nearby areas, but there is only one government hospital for these areas. Moreover, a reported shortage in medicines has piled up more misery on locals.
“I went to Lahore for work and got sick there, so I came back. It’s my third day as an in-patient. All I have here is a cot and a doctor, the medicines we have to buy from somewhere else,” said Sanaullah, a malaria patient.
Regarding the first malaria outbreak in the region, residents claim that they had not seen any official of the area’s Malaria Control Program on duty. Furthermore, they state that the Public Health Department has yet to fix broken and rusted water supply systems in streets and alleys, because of which there is stagnant water everywhere.
“A malaria team from Alpuri did come once here. They sprayed pesticide in an area or two, but I believe they used up their travel and daily allowance (TADA) and went back, they did not even do a good job,” complained Karimullah, Nazim of Aloch;s Village Council. “The public health department is also responsible. All our old water supply schemes are broken, and our streets are inundated. Mosquitoes are breeding in all this filth.”
According to data collected from public and private laboratories in Aloch, over 5,000 malaria tests came back positive in August alone.
Dr. Ghafoor Khan, Medical Superintendent at the Pir Muhammad Khan Shaheed Hospital in Puran, stated that in the last two years, the hospital had some 300 patients go through their OPD. But this number has not soared to over 500 in just the past couple of weeks.
“We have more than 200 patients in our emergency wards. This is an epidemic, we are seeing on a daily basis over a hundred patients complaining of malaria-like symptoms.”
Locals say that despite the worrying situation, there seems to be no visible, official action against rising cases, and no awareness campaigns on preventative measures.
“We had a meeting with the Deputy Commission and the Director General of the Health Department, and judging from initial patient data, we understood that the situation was under control,” Abdul Maulah, Tehsil Chairman Puran, told Voicepk.net. “But now we are going to escalate our efforts.”