Bracing for summer

The capital city is fighting a water-borne disease scare and so are a few other areas of the country. After Kathmandu, the most notable of them is Tanahu. Residents of this district including the inhabitants of Damauli, the district headquarters, has been severely affected by a diarrhoea outbreak and the patients have been flooding health units across the district. While the number of patients reporting to clinics and hospitals has been steadily declining in the Valley since Sunday, this, however, is no indication that the disease will not stage a comeback. Water-borne diseases, which cause diarrhoea and dysentery, are among some of the most easily curable maladies. But if the problem spirals out of hand, it will cease to be a case of mere loose motion. That is when it will be an epidemic. And there have been times when epidemic diarrhoea and dysentery have wreaked havoc during the rainy season when the drinking water source runs a high risk of being contaminated by flood waters infected with the causal organisms of this malady.

The aforementioned diseases, therefore, warrant an ever-vigilant and a prepared health system in the country. Thanks this time to Teku Hospital and others that coped, though not without the patients having to sleep on the floors, with the influx of the afflicted. Certainly, this is one battle won but a bigger war of containing the problem during the impending rainy season is there to be fought. In this period the city sewers start to get clogged and sometimes begin to seep into the rusting underground drinking water pipelines. Worse, the possibility of such water-borne diseases striking across large swathes of hillsides and Tarai cannot be ruled out altogether. This, therefore, calls for the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division to brace itself up to meet the challenges the wet season will offer on a platter. Landslides and dislocated populations, who are forced to run are at a greater risk of contracting the water-borne diseases. There is a clear case for the hospitals across the country to be well-equipped and retain a proper stock of medicines.

In the worst case scenario, cholera, which is regarded as "father of public health," is one such disease the medical firmaments in the country will have to seriously look forward to contain, as its pace of contamination greatly exceeds those of others in the group. With the monsoon will come rains and so will a host of water-borne diseases. What Kathmandu and Tanahun faced now can only be considered a prelude of a larger picture. Contaminated drink and food is the chief cause of an outbreak. The Department of Health will have to brace up with summer if a veritable fight is to be put against the looming epidemic.